I Shall be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe | Book Review

Erin Lindsay McCabe has quite the impressive debut in I Shall Be Near To You. The book is an all encompassing read about a woman who dresses as a man in order to follow her husband into the Civil War. If you’re looking for a book that combines bravery, intimacy, voice and history, I Shall Be Near To You has exactly what you are looking for. I became interested in the book after reading some positive reviews from friends and when I was in need of a break from my typical young adult fare. As I read McCabe’s debut, I fell in love. It’s a stunning, heartbreaking book centered around a fierce young woman.

I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe opens with a wedding. Rosetta, a farm girl who can do everything a man can, is marrying Jeremiah Wakefield much to the delight of her family. Her mother and sister Betsy are overjoyed, while her Pa is sad to be losing the best farm hand he’s ever had. Rosetta is also filled with joy. She loves Jeremiah with all of her heart and cannot believe that he has chosen her, given that she’s not like the giggling girls in their small, upstate New York town. Then, Jeremiah makes an announcement. He’s enlisted in the Union and will be leaving for the army in three days. Rosetta is heartbroken, but Jeremiah is doing it for a reason, the $150 he will receive will be enough for them to establish a farm in Nebraska. And so, Jeremiah leaves and Rosetta is tasked with staying home, with her in-laws, keeping to indoor ladylike tasks instead of the outdoor farm work she loves. Feeling stifled and overcome with loneliness and longing, Rosetta makes a rash, impulsive decision and follows Jeremiah into war. She chops off her hair, puts on some pants, and begins to call herself Ross Stone. Thus, I Shall Be Near To You follows Rosetta’s experience as a soldier in the Union army with her husband.

If you like to read about strong and brave female characters, I have a feeling that you will really enjoy reading about Rosetta Wakefield or Ross Stone. She’s not so courageous as to have no vulnerability. Rosetta is pigheaded. She is stubborn. However, she’s admirable. It’s interesting to see her navigate between spheres, to go from living as a female to disguising herself as a man. The author’s note talks about how during the Civil War, gender roles were much more strict than they are now, so when women disguised themselves as men and joined the army, no one batted an eyelash because they did not ever even consider that as a possibility. Rosetta’s struggles and her triumphs are fascinating to read about because Rosetta is such a complex, multifaceted character. She’s someone that I really found myself caring about and connecting with.

You ever love someone so much that you would follow them anywhere, even into war? For me, I found myself pondering this question as I read I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe. This is a book about intimacy and love and the lengths we go to for those who hold our hearts. Rosetta is in an extremely dangerous and scary situation because she cannot stand to be apart from her husband. The tenacity and devotion within the relationship depicted in I Shall Be Near To You made me sigh and swoon just a little bit.

Erin Lindsay McCabe’s debut is well written. It is not one of those historical fiction books that has a contemporary feel, using language and jargon that we use today. However, it is also not one of those historical fiction books where you need a decoder to understand what is going on. McCabe’s writing is authentic and real and engaging. Within the chapters, we are privy to letters written to Rosetta and received by Rosetta, I thought these letters added a nice touch of realism. I Shall Be Near To You is told in first person and makes quite the impact. I would absolutely recommend this book to people who enjoy historical fiction about women who do things.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

Comments

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I did too.
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