Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Broadway Books (September 2, 2014)
In I SHALL BE NEAR TO YOU, McCabe introduces us to newlywed Rosetta Wakefield. More accustomed to working as her father’s farmhand and happiest doing what others might call “man’s work,” Rosetta struggles with how to be a good wife to her childhood beau and new husband, Jeremiah. When Jeremiah leaves home to join the Union army, Rosetta finds the only way she can honor Jeremiah is to be with her husband—no matter what..
Cutting off her hair and donning men’s clothing, Rosetta enlists in the army as Private Ross Stone so that she might stand beside her husband. Joining, however, is the easy part, and now Rosetta must not only live and train with her male counterparts as they prepare for imminent battle, but she must also deal with Jeremiah, who is struggling with his “fighting” wife’s presence, not to mention the constant threat of discovery..
In brilliant detail, inspired by the letters of the real Rosetta Wakeman, McCabe offers a riveting look at the day-to-day lives of these secret women fighters as they defied conventions and made their personal contributions to history. Both a tender love story and a hard look at war, I SHALL BE NEAR TO YOU offers a unique exploration of marriage, societal expectations, and the role of women in the Civil War through the lens of a beautifully written novel..
" ...there's still most men who can't see a thing a woman does, even when she's doing them right under his nose."
Rosetta Wakefield loves her husband dearly, so much that she can not stand to be apart from him. When her husband leaves early in their marriage to join the Union effort in the Civil War, Rosetta soon cuts her hair, dons men's clothing and trudges her way up to his camp in order to enlist and fight by his side.
I love stories that tell of strong women throughout our history. In I Shall Be Near To You, Erin Lindsay McCabe masterfully weaves the information we know of the countless real-life women soldiers from the Civil War into the fictional story of Rosetta Wakefield. This was beautifully written and I had a hard time parting with Rosetta's story, even when it was heart-breaking. I felt an instant bond to Rosetta's character within the first few pages. She does not quite fit the role of a women for her time, she can't sit still, she says what she means, she would rather be outside doing men's work and she has strong emotions. Rosetta's love for her childhood friend, Jeremiah is sweet but fierce and the bond is not forced. There are flashbacks throughout the book that give the inside look to their relationship, imperfections and all.
One of the things that I have always wondered about women who have fought as males in the Civil War was how they managed to cover up their identities for so long. McCabe tackles some of these issues with Rosetta, it of course helped that Rosetta was with her husband and was able to share a tent, but there were also other men from her town that knew her secret. Rosetta had to bind herself, take care of her business farther away, and deal with her menstrual cycle. She also had to learn how to not stand with her hand on her hip and run with a larger stride. Rosetta's time within the Union Camp and within battles was the most intriguing, giving an inside, intimate look to the time period and a camp during the Civil War. Rosetta drills with the men and learns to shoot, she also uses her limited cooking skills and cares for the wounded, she becomes a valuable part of her regiment.
Compelling and unforgettable, Rosetta's story is valuable as insight into just one of the many women who fought in the Civil War under the guise of a male.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Erin studied literature and history at University of California, Santa
Cruz, earned a teaching credential at California State University, Chico, and taught high school English for seven years. Since completing her MFA in Creative Writing at St. Mary’s College of California in 2010, Erin has taught Composition at St. Mary’s College and Butte College. A California native, Erin lives in the Sierra Foothills with her husband, son, and a small menagerie that includes one dog, four cats, two horses, numerous chickens, and three goats.
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