If you are new to town, you may not know that the library launched Wallingford's first-ever One Book One Town extravaganza, called (of course) One Book, One Wallingford, in 2018. The goal of One Book, One Wallingford is to bring members of the Wallingford community together in reading a specific book and then gathering to discuss both the book and topics related to its themes. The culminating event of last year's inaugural One Book, One Wallingford event was the visit to Wallingford by Matthew Quick, the author of the 2018 One Book, One Wallingford selection The Reason You're Alive. Quick spoke to a full house at the Paul Mellon Arts Center, answered questions and then signed copies of his novels, taking the time to chat with the scores of Wallingford residents who had waited to meet him. As people were leaving the PMAC that evening, several of them approached me and other library staff members and asked us to promise that we would run another One Book, One Wallingford program. Once we assured them that we would, they wanted to know when. And the answer to that is, now.
We kicked off One Book, One Wallingford 2019 by releasing a series of clues as to the identity of this year's book and author. Those clues appeared on a large board across from the Circulation Desk, on the library's website, in the library's newsletter and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We published five clues, one on each Wednesday in January, and we encouraged patrons to guess the book's title and author. For the record, we received lots of guesses but only a handful of correct guesses.
Then, on Monday February 4th, we upped the ante by treating library patrons (and staff) to the arresting sight of a completely-covered central book display topped by a flyer advertising the Big Reveal of the 2019 One Book, One Wallingford selection. For several days, impatient library visitors tried to peek underneath the display cover, to no avail. By 7pm on Wednesday, February 6th, the front area of the main floor of the library was filled with patrons eager to find out the name of the 2019 One Book, One Wallingford book. Jane Fisher, the library's director, greeted everyone warmly and thanked the town, library staff and the members of the One Book, One Wallingford committee for their help and support. And then Julie Rio, Wallingford's adult programming librarian, played this video, revealing that the 2019 One Book, One Wallingford selection is Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart.
Girl Waits with Gun, set in 1914, is about Constance Kopp and her two sisters, Norma and Fleurette. None of the Kopp sisters fits the mold of the day. They live alone on the family farm outside Hackensack, New Jersey, resisting their brother's pleas for them to marry and move to town. When the three sisters are out one day, a car driven by the town's powerful factory owner Henry Kaufman smashes into their buggy. While no one is hurt, Constance demands that Kaufman pay for the damages suffered by the buggy, but he refuses. Undaunted, Constance sues Kaufman, who responds with verbal harassment and threats of physical harm. The town sheriff asks Constance to help with a sting operation to try to catch Kaufman and his thugs, and she agrees, carrying a gun in her purse for protection. Based on the true story of one of the first female deputy sheriffs in the United States, Amy Stewart's bestselling novel is about a bold woman who is unafraid to defy convention and refuses to give in to a bully. The book is part detective story, part mystery and part historical fiction, and it's a terrific read. Although the story takes place more than 100 years ago, the book's themes are strikingly relevant today. Stewart has published three additional novels in the Kopp Sisters series: Lady Cop Makes Trouble, Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions and Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit. A new novel in the series, Kopp Sisters on the March, will be published in September. In addition, Amazon is in the process of developing a television series based on the books.
The reveal of the 2019 One Book, One Wallingford selection was the cause of much rejoicing. We celebrated with sparkling cider and with cake:
Needless to say, the library has lots of copies of Girl Waits with Gun for you to borrow or buy. In addition, we've planned several programs that touch on various aspects of the novel and its themes, including a lecture on the role of women in early 20th century America, a look at the evolution of the female detective in fiction, a talk with the creator of the award-winning cover of the book, and discussions about homing pigeons and the scientific study of handwriting (when you read the book, you'll know why). As always, there will be gatherings to talk about the novel itself, both at the library and at the Wallingford Senior Center, and we've planned two meetings to discuss the role of faith and spirituality in the book. You can find the dates and times of all of the 2019 One Book, One Wallingford events on the library's website and in a brochure you can pick up at the Information Desk.
Most importantly, Amy Stewart will be coming to Mark T. Sheehan High School in Wallingford at 7 pm on Wednesday, May 15th to talk with us about Constance and her sisters and about the process of writing Girl Waits with Gun. Afterwards, she will sign as many books as you'd like. Tickets for the author talk and book signing are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Information Desk. Come by to pick up a ticket and a copy of Girl Waits with Gun. Read the book and then let's get together to talk about it.