Dear Miss Kopp

Written by Amy Stewart
Review by Trish MacEnulty

Epistolary novels, perfected in an earlier century, can be daunting. Readers must try to piece together events from the pens of various characters who all know much more than we do. But in Amy Stewart’s capable hands, the letter writers—three Kopp sisters and a nurse named Aggie—engage us so thoroughly and the real-time events are so compelling that the form works beautifully here.

The storyline follows the four women as they play their patriotic part in the Allied effort during World War I. These smart, capable women strive to serve their country but continually face absurd obstacles simply because of their sex.

Norma Kopp works for a pigeon-messenger program in rural France but finds that despite her expertise and her uniform she is “treated like a member of the Ladies Auxiliary.” Her sister Constance, an accomplished detective, has been relegated to “lurking around factories and listening for rumblings of union organizing among the women.” Their other sister, Fleurette, performs as an entertainer in Miss May’s Dresden Dolls until she’s apprehended for looking provocative as she walks through town with a parrot on her shoulder. If you think quarantining in a pandemic is bad, imagine being a young woman detained indefinitely for being too attractive. Then poor Aggie is accused of a crime she didn’t commit.

One can’t help but root for these intrepid women and their birds as they do their part in the Great War. The historical revelations, especially, make for fascinating reading. I could barely wait to read the historical note at the end. Although this is the sixth book in the series, it’s the first one I’ve read. It won’t be the last.