Saturday, 4 January 2014

Review: I Shall Be Near You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband in the Civil War, inspired by a real female soldier's letters home
   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.
   Rosetta drills with the men, prepares herself for battle, and faces the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Fearing discovery of her secret, Rosetta’s strong will clashes with Jeremiah’s as their marriage is tested by war. Inspired by over two hundred and fifty 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.

Hardcover, 320 pages

Expected publication: January 28th 2014 by Crown  

Terri's Thoughts:

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  the expected publication date is January 28th 2014.

I literally just finished this read and all I can say is wow.  I was so moved by this story that I do not even know how I can begin to put any of my thoughts together.  I shall try however I fear that there is nothing I can write that will do any type of justice to how this story has moved me.

This is the story of Rosetta who disguises herself as a male so that she can enlist in the army to be with her husband.  The character of Rosetta was strong willed and stubborn and you couldn't help but like her instantly.  McCabe did a great job of having her speak like they would have in that time.  I felt is made Rosetta's character more real.  Although her stubbornness was at times annoying I think that at the end of the day it lent more strength and believability to her character.  Her love for Jeremiah was heartbreakingly pure and unyielding.  I could not even imagine putting myself in the situation she did.

I am not going to detail the stories plot.  I will say that this was a heartbreaking read and that it did provoke some tears.  It has been a long time since I have been able to cry in the pages of a novel and in my opinion it is a sign of a very well written and compelling story.  I am beyond thankful that I had the opportunity to read this book as it will remain with me for quite some time to come.

Lastly, worth a read is the author's notes at the end.  Although this was a fictional story McCabe explains that there was in fact a Rosetta who fought in the civil war and her letters home were the inspiration for this story.  She also mentions more than 200 women enlisted during this time.  The historical insight that she provides is a great addition to this read and allows us the reader to see the historical significance of these woman.

Thank you for the tears.  It was worth every one shed.

About the Author

ERIN LINDSAY McCABE studied Literature at University of California, Santa Cruz, and taught high school English before completing her MFA at St. Mary's College of California in 2010. She has taught Composition at St. Mary's College and Butte College and resides in Northern California with her husband and son and a small menagerie that includes one dog, four cats, two horses, ten chickens, and three goats.
Twitter:  ErinLindsMcCabe

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