Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review: I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

Here is the summary from Amazon:
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 loved this book.  Really, really loved it.  So this review will be pretty short and sweet!

Let me start by saying that I very rarely read any books involving war.  They are usually heartbreaking and make me really sad for days after finishing them, because even if the story is fiction, war is very real.  When I was in middle and high school, pretty much all I read were war books.  My favorites were the romantic ones for teens that took place on the Hindenburg and at Pearl Harbor (remember those??  I can't remember the names or the author!).  And eventually I just needed to stop and read happy books!  I've stayed away from most war books for years.  But I saw this one.  And I needed to read it.  And yes, I did an awful lot of crying.  Do I regret reading it?  Absolutely not!!  But it's going to be a while before I read another book set during war.

I loved the premise of the book-if my man was going off to war and I could desguise myself to be with him, you better believe I'd do it.  Rosetta reminded me so must of myself.  So much so that at times I felt that the book was written just for me.  She's stubborn and doesn't want to live the life that most women were stuck with back in the day.  And takes her love for Jeremiah and her vows very seriously.  There's a part in the book where her father reads from the Bible.  I'm not religious in the least and do not know my Bible well at all, but he read a passage from Ruth, and I thought it was perfect for this book and also for relationships in general.  It was basically about going wherever you partner goes.  And Rosetta does just that. 

I could not put this book down.  It really was heartbreaking.  In the beginning, we meet a bunch of young men, so ready and excited for the adventures of war.  But many never returned home.  My dad was a huge Civil War buff and we always visited the battlefields.  I think that's another reason why this book resonated with me so much.  I remember being a little girl at Gettysburg thinking about what had happened, and in this book, there are young men just like the real ones who fought in the war.

Also, hands up to all the women who desguised themselves as men.  That had to take a lot of guts.

So that was a bit longer than I intended.  Please read the book so we can discuss!!  Especially the end.  I need to talk about that with someone! 

Leave a comment, or find me on Twitter!

Title: I Shall Be Near to You
Author: Erin Lindsay McCabe
Date of Publication: January 28th, 2013
Number of Pages:
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Netgalley

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