Etta is the first book written by Gerald Kolpan, a long-time features reporter for a television station in Philadelphia. This novel is a fictionalized account of Etta Place, who is best known as the paramour of the Sundance Kid, and portrayed by Katharine Ross in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. You need not have seen the 1969 movie to appreciate the fine storytelling in Etta.
Kolpan took a few bits of what is actually known of Etta Place, combined it with extensive historical research, and created one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. This novel weaves together numerous documents (all fictional) into a coherent and fascinating story. These “documents” include the journal of Lorinda Jameson, the “real” Etta Place; letters from Sundance to his father; and internal memoranda from the notorious Pinkerton Detective Agency.
Throughout this novel, Lorinda/Etta becomes an outlaw, a philanthropist, a close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, and a patron of the arts. She rides horses and shoots well enough to substitute for Annie Oakley in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, and save the life of President Teddy Rossevelt from an assassin. It is all unlikely, of course, but Kolpan makes character so real that disbelief is totally, and willingly, suspended.
I received this book as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewer program. It will not be available until March. I suggest reserving a copy now.
Thanks Library Thing!
To be published in hardcover-Random House 2009