2015 Book #87 – I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

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Title: I Shall Be Near To You
Author: Erin Lindsay McCabe
Date finished: 8/16/15
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Pages in book: 297
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband, inspired by the letters of a remarkable female soldier who fought in the Civil War.
Rosetta doesn’t want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they’ll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she’s always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she’s told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.
With the army desperate for recruits, Rosetta has no trouble volunteering, although she faces an incredulous husband. She drills with the men, proves she can be as good a soldier as anyone, and deals with the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Rosetta’s strong will clashes with Jeremiah’s while their marriage is tested by broken conventions, constant danger, and war, and she fears discovery of her secret even as they fight for their future, and for their lives. Inspired by more than 250 documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.

My rating: 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (August). This book was actually already on my TBR list before I joined the book discussion group at the library, so I was really excited when I saw this one on their to read list. This book is about a young woman named Rosetta who marries Jeremiah Wakefield, a boy she has loved for years, before he goes off to join the Civil War. Two weeks later though, he leaves to enlist. Rosetta can’t face the idea of life without Jeremiah, living on his parents’ farm and being forced to stay inside every day doing woman’s work. And so she dresses up as a man and goes to join the army so that she can fight alongside her husband.
What follows is her story of living inside the Regiment. When she first arrived, Jeremiah was livid that she followed him and masqueraded herself as a man to join the Army. Rosetta never folded in with what was expected of her though, and that was one of the reasons Jeremiah fell in love with her in the first place. And as mad as he is, in a way he is also glad she is there and that they can be together. He doesn’t want her to be in harm’s way but she is just about as stubborn as a mule so without getting her in trouble by tattling, there isn’t much Jeremiah can do to get her sent home.
Overall I really just enjoyed this book a lot. There is such strength in Rosetta and I admire her so much for facing something that I’m not sure I would ever be able to face. Obviously being in a war is not something for the weak, and the descriptions of the battle fields and the wounded and dying that Rosetta describe would be hard for anyone to come to terms with. And also with war comes loss; loss of loved ones and loss of innocence. I loved Rosetta’s character and it warmed my heart to see how much mutual love there was between Rosetta and Jeremiah. This book was heart-wrenching and wonderful.

The bottom line: I just loved this book. It was sad, yes, but it was also a great book about what strength we as women are capable of. I would highly recommend reading this one.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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