About Etta: A Novel

Beautiful, elusive, and refined, Etta Place captivated the nation at the turn of the last century as she dodged the law with the Wild Bunch, led by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Her true identity and fate have remained a mystery that has tantalized historians for decades. Now, for the first time, Gerald Kolpan envisions this remarkable woman's life in a stunning debut novel.

Kolpan imagines that Etta Place was born Lorinda Jameson, the daughter of a prominent financier, who becomes known as the loveliest of the city's debutantes when she makes her entrance into Philadelphia society. Though her position in life seems assured, her true calling is on horseback. She can ride as well as any man and handle a rifle even better. But when a tragedy leads to a dramatic reversal of fortune, Lorinda is left orphaned, penniless, homeless, and pursued by the ruthless Black Hand.

Rechristened "Etta Place" to ensure her safety, the young woman travels to the farthest reaches of civilization, working as a "Harvey Girl" waitress in Grand Junction, Colorado. There, fate intervenes once more and she again finds herself on the run from the ruthless Pinkerton Detective Agency. But this time she has company. She soon finds herself at the legendary hideout at Hole-in-the-Wall, Wyoming, where she meets the charismatic Butch Cassidy and the handsome, troubled Harry Longbaugh, alias the Sundance Kid. Through a series of holdups and heists, Etta and Harry begin an epic and ultimately tragic romance, which will be the greatest of Etta's life. Then, when Etta meets the young and idealistic Eleanor Roosevelt, her life is changed forever.

Blending a compelling love story, high adventure, and thrilling historical drama, Etta is an electrifying novel. With a sweeping early 1900s setting, colorful storytelling, and larger-than-life characters, Etta is a debut that is both captivating and unforgettable.

From the Author

I got the idea for Etta over a decade ago. I was watching a television special on The Hole-In-the-Wall Gang when the narrator said something that caught my attention. He claimed that virtually nothing was known about Etta Place, the alleged girlfriend of the Sundance Kid.

At the time, all I knew about Etta Place I had learned from the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I saw Katherine Ross play Etta (and do a fine job of it), but I couldn't imagine so little could be known about the legendary figure herself, especially considering there was quite a bit of information about her two male cohorts.

I thought, "What a story. But that can't be right." Shortly after that, I went to the Free Library of Philadelphia and began researching the subject.

It was true. Etta Place was the very definition of a mystery woman. And it was my fascination with that mystery that led to the writing of Etta.