Friday, September 26, 2014

I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

by:  Erin Lindsay McCabe
published by:  Crown
publish date:  January 28, 2014

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.

This was one of my most favorite books I read this year.  I saw it on the library's website and thought "what an interesting concept", then I swear the very next day I saw a write up for the book Neverhome which has a similar story line.  So I decided to read both of them and see how they compare.  Out of the two, I Shall be Near to You was the winner in my opinion.

Rosetta is raised to be a strong woman.  She is as strong as any farm hand her father has and can run just as fast.  When she gets married she loves her husband fiercely, but has trouble settling into the gentlewoman ways that her mother-in-law is expecting.  When Jeremiah goes off to war, her discomfort becomes greater and until she decides that her rightful place is at his side no matter what the consequences.  She disguises herself as a man, names herself Ross and joins up with the Union Army.

Ross' story is so amazing and heartbreaking at the same time.  All the work and effort she put forth to be with her husband was incredible.  Not only her work, but the dedication of Jeremiah and their unit members to protect her identity was really an heartwarming thing.  I talk about it like it really happened, which I know it didn't, but there had to be true instances of this happening, which make the story all the better.  This is a war story ultimately so parts were bloody and gory and tragic, but it was a really beautiful story.

I definitely recommend this story to anyone.  Historical fiction lovers will be all over this one.  This Civil War buffs should be interested in this one too.  Along with this book, I'll be posting about Neverhome tomorrow.  There's a third book about women soldiers in the Civil War coming out sometime next year called Sisters of Shiloh.  I wondered what prompted all the attention to this topic all the sudden.

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