Got my mom, a vehemently anti-gun bleeding heart sinkhole of a liberal, a ruger LCR in 38spc. Never looked back. She now loves shooting, and packs all day. Still hates black rifles and hi cap mags though, next I'll get her a Colt LE or SP
If this woman isn't the type for a swift wrist bend but light recoil like low power loads in a 38spc, i'd say point her toward a short barrelled 20 gauge.
Only reason I say short barreled is that I was in a quasi-HD situation, and had a 500 with the stock Slugster barrel on it, which I believe was 22 or 24 inches, and that was an absolute nightmare to wield, and I'm 6 ft 185, for 350 she can have a mossy 500 and an 18.5 smoothie barrel. Can't beat it. Even a Stevens or an Escort are gonna come to under 500 with some modifications and more than enough ammunition to familiarize and keep. Shotguns are great because she could realistically learn in 50 rounds or less. Not the case on a pistol.
Buuuut, she might not be able to wield a shotgun effectively, maybe except a .410, so I'd say Ruger LCR all day. And for a 9mm with next to no recoil and can fit small hands, Ruger P95.
Note: 60 years old, 5 foot 3, 110 lbs. She wanted a .45. Recoil is more in the persons preference as opposed to size. I had a girlfriend who was like 5'2" and 105, she loved my Sigma in 40 (worst kick like ever on an autoloader) and my male friend, 6 foot 5, 250-300 lbs, doesn't even like to shoot snubby .38's. If recoils that much of an issue, Sig Mosquito or Walther P22, its HD so it wont go through her walls and hit kids, small, easy to shoot, and extremely lethal in that close of proximity. A friend of mine, combat medic, iraq vet, only uses .22s for primary home defense. Just sayin. Recoil = Eye of beholder. My $0.02