I Shall Be Near to You
By: Erin Lindsay McCabe
Challenge: Monthly Motif
# of pages: 320
Official description: 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.
My opinion: Overall, this novel felt disjointed. There were times I couldn’t follow the narrator’s logic. Even at the end, when Rosetta makes her biggest decision, I didn’t understand why since it completely disregarded her previous stance on the decision just a few pages earlier.
I love the author’s idea of exploring female soldiers in the Civil War. It isn’t common knowledge that there were so many female soldiers in that war, so it was interesting to read the author’s note at the end of the book about where she came up with her idea for this novel.
Why I gave this book 3/5 stars: Interesting story and characters, but I didn’t connect with any of them. The narrative felt disjointed and hard to follow at times.
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