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.
Sometimes there comes along a book that can make you laugh, cry, ache, and cheer all at the same time. Well Erin Lindsay McCabe’s book I Shall Be Near To You does all of that and more. This book is the fictional retelling of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman one of the many female Civil War soldiers. The fierceness of Rosetta’s character is what carries this whole book through.
Rosetta loves Jeremiah and they get married despite Jeremiah’s insistence on joining the Union Army to fight. He is looking to get money so him and Rosetta can move to Nebraska and farm. I adored Jeremiah and Rosetta’s friendship before marriage and (despite their hardships) their love for one another.
I Shall Be Near To You is well written. I will admit that it dragged a bit at some points but once you got past the middle of the book it just flowed from there. It seemed very well researched.
There are a couple things I should warn about. This book is not for the soft at heart. While there are sexual scenes nothing is graphic and they are tastefully done. I must also say there is a lot of language in this book though. Not from the main characters but from lesser roles. Those same characters also use degrading language towards women.
Despite some of the downfalls of the book my favorite part was Rosetta’s fierce love. I know I said that earlier but it is easy to love through the easy parts of life. It takes a whole different kind of women to love through the hard times as well. In the end this book brought me to tears. Again read this book at your own risk, but some things are worth risking.
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Crown (January 28, 2014)
- ISBN-10: 0804137722
- ISBN-13: 978-0804137720
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.