Published by Crown
Publish Date: January 28, 2014
Source: Book - Author - Thank you so very much!
Audiobook - Library
Find it here: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N
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. (Goodreads)
I Shall Be Near To You
by Erin Lindsay McCabe
My Thoughts: The summary above calls this book "extraordinary" and THAT'S JUST WHAT IT IS. I want to tell you guys all of the reasons that this book resonated with me and filled my heart, but I've spent weeks finding myself just lost for words. I want to try, though. I will try.
Rosetta has always had her heart set on Jeremiah. And his heart belongs to no one but her. I love their love for one another because it feels so pure and right and sweet. Jeremiah doesn't seem to mind that Rosetta is not a girly-girl; he stands by her and loves her just as she is. This is a good thing, because it doesn't take her very long to go looking for him after enlistment so she can fight secretly at his side. Rosetta is not cut out for the life of a quiet wife at home, waiting patiently for her husband to return from war - she married him to be married to him, after all. Her decision to secretly enlist and fight is one that took guts, but it is a type of guts and confidence that Rosetta absolutely has and displays over and over again in this story.
The idea that women did this type of thing during the Civil War both fascinates me and breaks my heart. I love American History with a nerd-like passion, so to have this new-to-me perspective into a time period that I already dote on BRINGS ME GREAT JOY. With that joy, however, comes the horrors of war. Being able to read this story from Rosetta's perspective is incredible. This gal didn't hold anything back - she immediately began the same activities that the other guys in her group were doing: Rosetta had to learn tactical skills with weaponry and to respect authority. She had to learn how to walk and talk and behave and think like a guy, because she had a secret identity. She had to learn to manage her emotional side when seeing the wounded and dead and let's not forget that as a woman, there are womanly issues to deal with no matter where you go or what type of identity you maintain...
Rosetta was able to do all of these things and do them WELL. She was also able to still be the best wife she could be to Jeremiah while living under the strenuous conditions of war. She worried for him, of course, and I adored the way she tried to fiercely protect him at all costs. This protective nature grew to include other soldiers that became her friends, and this instinct is one of my favorite things about Rosetta. She was able to be incredibly strong and feminine out there among a group of guys while being 'just one of the guys.' She was incredible.
The romance between Rosetta and Jeremiah is so fantastic that it flat-out hurt to read it, but in the best possible way. As much as I loved their romance, however, I think I loved the attention to historical detail and the picture that this story painted for me even more. I felt like I was right beside of Rosetta and Jeremiah, right on the battlefield, right in the camps between battles, doing the drills, witnessing everything they witnessed. I had an incredibly strong reaction to this book and I LOVED IT. So many tears, not only for the experiences of Rosetta and Jeremiah, but for the horrors of war.
I just, wow. I can't even write this (after multiple attempts over several weeks) without feeling a huge emotional attachment to the story! I can't put my finger on exactly why this one means so much to me, but it. just. does. I wish things had been different in American History so stories like this one were not so close to reality. And I wish that the horrors of war weren't so horrible, BUT I'm amazed at how well Ms. McCabe penned them. I realize that not everyone is an emotional reader but: I cried so many times, you guys, oh how I cried. Rosetta's reactions to seeing wounded and dead soldiers made me think of how my reactions would be and her longing to just be alone with her husband made me want that for her so badly.
I CAN'T PUT INTO WORDS HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS BOOK. I don't know what to do with the feelings I have for this one! I've told everyone about it. I've pushed this book onto a real-life reading friend, who loved it. I've texted and messaged and done all of the discussion-things that readers love to do. Ultimately, though, Rosetta and Jeremiah are still just taking up residence in my heart and I'm okay with this. I'm okay with this! I'm also thinking that I need to re-read this one very soon. Highly emotional books like this one usually take me a long time to read, but I read this one fairly quickly. I couldn't get enough of this story. And honestly, I can't stop thinking about it and about these characters.
Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe is published by Random House Audio and is 10 hours and 19 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Allyson Ryan who IS ABSOLUTELY ROSETTA WAKEFIELD, perfectly. I checked out a copy of the audiobook from my library on a whim when I became impatient with having to sit my physical copy down for a few minutes to, you know, do real life housework and feed my children and stuff. If I could have taken the time to describe what I imagine Rosetta would sound like before I listened to the audiobook, THIS AUDIOBOOK WOULD SOUND EXACTLY LIKE THAT. Without a doubt, this is an excellent representation of Erin Lindsay McCabe's story and I send high-fives to anyone in the world that listens as a first read or a re-read. Myself, personally, I want a copy of this audiobook in my library because it is absolutely as good as it can be.
I Shall Be Near To You will appeal to fans of:
Romance: Already established. No triangle.
U.S. Civil War Era
I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
is currently available for purchase.
Have you read I SHALL BE NEAR TO YOU? You should!
Do you have any Civil War/historical fiction recommendations? I'm really stuck on this period of history right now! Or historical fiction recs in general?
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