I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
Acquired Book By:
I was selected to be a tour stop on the “I Shall Be Near To You” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher Crown Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Inspired to Read & Excitement Ahead of Time:
The beautiful cover art on the hardback edition I received to review is featured inside the Excerpt by the publisher’s Scribd page featured below my review. I must admit, I appreciate both versions of the cover-art designs, even if I’m a bit partial to the hardback as I think it gives a measure of mystery as to how a woman could hide behind the thin veil of a man’s clothes and walk onto the field of battle; serving her country alongside her husband. The second cover-art which is included on the Book Synopsis is a bit more elusive as to the central core of the story, as it draws you to think of a different thread of context. At least it had for me, as it appeared to be a woman who was caught in the middle of the era of war rather than a woman who joined the fight during the war itself.
I had the pleasure of participating in a Twitter chat ahead of my review posting on the 2nd of September, whereupon I was wrapped up in the excitement of this novel’s release and the joyous mirth of discovering book bloggers & readers who had already felt the inertia of its emotional pull. I was overjoyed being able to participate in a chat dedicated to one of my favourite branches of literature, and for giving me such an incredible start to this blog tour.
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..
Places to find the book:
Published by Broadway Books
on 2nd September, 2014
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.
The [American] Civil War:
I learnt quite a heap about the Civil War whilst I was in high school, except to say, they left out quite a lot of important factors such as women who served their country alongside the men! I think I might have listened a bit closer to the lectures and the discussions, as to me, it was all starting to blur together after two terms of feeling as though we were going right round in a circle without any of it making a lot of sense in the end. Being the fact I grew up in the South, most of the lessons were focused on the Rebel Army rather than the Union; yet being that I’m from Northern Stock, I was more keen to know about Grant’s positions and where my ancestors might have fit into this war. It would take over a decade to learn about my Great Granddaddy who was a Captain with the Union, and fresh off the boat from Ireland. The best bit was learning how he was a farmer and how much he loved the land. In some ways, I was never surprised to have learnt more than half my ancestors who immigrated to America ended up as farmers; it seems right as rain to me, being that I’m a locavore who appreciates farm fresh fruit and veg, locally grown (without chemicals) and sourced.
It didn’t matter which side your family fought on during this war because it was a war to end all wars in of itself. It was a war where everyone fought side by side and both sides (the North & the South) felt they were in the right. It has a brutal history and it has an empowering moment of change; nothing was the same, and battles were won on the deaths of so many innocents. To find a story that places true-to-life characters in the middle of this great war and gives a searing arc of climax that befits the war itself as much as the barriers women faced during that time is an incredible find.
McCabe centers her story on the true grit of historical fact originating out of the Civil War itself; including having found a real-life Rosetta who was part of the inspiration for her own. She doesn’t hold back from revealing the cardinal truths of the battlefield or the wounded inside the hospital wards, yet she is sensitive to their plight and I felt lifted in spirit rather than bogged down in the horrors of war. I felt she tempered the truth with a narrative that gives you a breath to absorb the words without always taking the reality of what they are expressing to a shocking conclusion. McCabe’s best attribute is in knowing what to include and how what happens affects everyone you’ve come to know. The war is both the backdrop and the shifting force to pull everyone forward and apart at the same time. It is a testament of our past and a testament of the power to fight for everything you believe in.