30 July 2014

I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

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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.

I Shall Be Near to You is a stunning debut novel from Erin Lindsay McCabe – a beautiful and poignant story of relationship, set against the gritty reality of war. Inspired by the Civil War accounts of women fighting disguised as men, McCabe brings to life the hardships such women faced through her brilliant central character, Rosetta Wakefield.

A simple country girl with aspirations only to spend her days farming alongside the man she loves, Rosetta finds herself following her new husband to war – not for glory or pride or honor, but simply to be at his side. To stay together, she and her husband must resolutely face the looming danger threatening to break them apart, but for Rosetta, any shared time is worth the risk. In the face of this adversity, their budding marriage shows tender and endearing, and Rosetta impressively proves to be a stubborn, witty and capable woman, while retaining vulnerability and dependence. A believable and fascinatingly real narrator, Rosetta has a highly compelling voice and creates a narrative transportive, captivating and emotional.  

I deeply enjoyed I Shall Be Near to You and would certainly recommend it. I cannot imagine other fans of historical fiction will be disappointed.

Thanks to Blogging for Books, I received a copy of I Shall Be Near to You and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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