I Shall Be Near to You: A Novel

I Shall Be Near to You: A Novel

4.6 20
by Erin Lindsay McCabe

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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.

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. When Jeremiah leaves, Rosetta decides her true place is

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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.

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. When Jeremiah leaves, Rosetta decides her true place is by his side, no matter what that means, and follows him into war.

Rich with historical details and inspired by the many women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is a courageous adventure, a woman's search for meaning and individuality, and a poignant story of enduring love.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Inspired by the actual letters of a woman who fought in the Civil War, McCabe’s debut imagines the challenges faced by newlyweds Rosetta and Jeremiah Wakefield when she decides to join him in battle. Feisty Rosetta was never at home doing women’s chores, preferring to help her father run the family farm. Therefore, it’s no surprise that when Jeremiah says he will join the Union Army, she proposes to him so they can be wed before his departure—and then she decides to join him in training, cutting her hair, binding her breasts, putting on men’s clothes, and enlisting as “Ross Stone.” Though she promises to go home when the real fighting starts, there are numerous reasons for Rosetta to stay put with her husband and the group of local boys who are in on the secret. McCabe successfully recreates the tedium of prebattle training, the rigors of marching from one destination to the next, the exhaustion of battles and retreats, and the massive destruction that occurred during the war. An author’s note states that hundreds of women fought on both sides during the Civil War, and without being preachy or having an agenda, McCabe offers a feminine perspective on a dark time in U.S. history. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
A girl as tough as Katniss Everdeen. A romance out of Twilight. A historical backdrop as strong as Cold Mountain. These things combine in the extraordinary story of Rosetta Wakefield, a young woman from rural New York who follows her childhood sweetheart, Jeremiah, into the Civil War… McCabe makes every sentence count, with a narrative full of authentic dialogue, historical realism, and great feeling. Loosely based on true events, including the letters of the more than 200 women who are known to have served as men in the Civil War, this beautiful novel is literary but will have crossover appeal for more sophisticated YA readers as well, who will find Rosetta an unforgettable heroine.” —Booklist, starred review

“McCabe’s debut novel...is a shining story of enduring love… McCabe portrays Rosetta brilliantly—think True Grit’s Mattie Ross—as she narrates her story with energy, self-perception, courage and unremitting love for Jeremiah. McCabe’s thorough research lends verisimilitude to army life, all cook fires, salt pork, hardtack, thin blankets and marches into terror. McCabe’s descriptions of battle’s chaos and mayhem…is reminiscent of Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage...Based on often overlooked history, McCabe offers an extraordinary novel, one creating a memorable character through which we relive our national cataclysm.” —Kirkus, starred review

A real gem…In the long, distinguished history of Civil War fiction, Erin Lindsay McCabe has presented us a book that might be for the ages. Her novel, I Shall Be Near to You, tells a passionate love story that moved me as much as I’ve been moved in years. Her heroine, Rosetta Wakefield, is as compelling a warrior as any that appears in Michael Shaara’s great novel about Gettysburg, The Killer Angels. Rosetta is a magnificent creation and lets us know that the people of the North had the same attachment to their land as any Southerner ever did.  If you don’t like this book, you don’t like to read.”
Pat Conroy, New York Times Bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and The Death of Santini

“Compellingly authentic.”ELLE

"Erin Lindsay McCabe has given us an unforgettable tale of the power of love and commitment over war and all that comes with it. She breathes life and heart into Rosetta, a young bride who struggles to find her own footing in a marriage too new to have much of a footing at all, as Rosetta chooses to follow Jeremiah into war and into what will prove to be the horror and the richness of a life lived in the fullest." 
Robert Hicks, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country

“Erin McCabe’s I Shall Be Near to You is a beautiful book, a historical novel inspired by the more than 200 women who disguised themselves as men to serve in the Civil War.  It is a touching, emotional story that reminds us that in different times and in entirely different circumstances, we are all fighting for the same things.”
Vanessa Diffenbaugh, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers

"I Shall Be Near to You marks the impressive debut of a truly gifted author. Erin Lindsay McCabe’s riveting story of a woman who disguises herself as a man to follow her husband into the Union army enthralls even as it wrenches the heart."
Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and The Spymistress
"Told in the unforgettable voice of Rosetta Wakefield, I Shall Be Near to You is one of those wonderful stay-up-late-to-devour-another-chapter novels. Erin Lindsay McCabe strikes the perfect balance of historical research and lyrically crafted prose. Through Rosetta's eyes, readers experience the horror and the humanity of daily life during the Civil War. This is a book you'll definitely want to read—and tell your best friend to read, too."
Lois Leveen, author of The Secrets of Mary Bowser
"The spirited voice of McCabe's indelible Rosetta demands your attention from page 1 and captures your heart with her remarkable story. I fell hard for this courageous character and readers will too! Driven by fierce love, Rosetta exemplifies the timeless fighting spirit of womanhood. McCabe has done her homework well, mining Civil War secrets for this historical golden nugget. I laughed. I wept. I learned and will treasure always."
Sarah McCoy, author of the international bestseller and 2012 Goodreads Choice Award nominee The Baker's Daughter

“Inspired by the actual letters of a woman who fought in the Civil War...McCabe offers a feminine perspective on a dark time in US history.” —Publishers Weekly

"McCabe has given us a memorable tale of love in the midst of war, loyalty and faith in the maelstrom of our nation's greatest tragedy."
Howard Bahr, author of The Black Flower and winner of the Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-11-03
McCabe's debut novel echoes with the Civil War battlefield's ear-shattering noise and gut-wrenching smells, but its heart is a shining story of enduring love. In 1862, Jeremiah Wakefield, New York country boy, hears the Union's call and the lure of an enlistment bonus that will finance a farm. Friends too are eager to join the 97th New York Volunteers. Rosetta Edwards will have none of it. Rosetta may be a tomboy and her father's farmhand, but she's shared kisses and promises with Jeremiah. If he's intent on soldiering, they'll marry first. They wed and enjoy a few weeks of housekeeping in a cabin. It's there that Jeremiah stumbles over Rosetta's rock-hard stubbornness, a quality that later inspires her to chop her hair, dress in men's clothing and become "Ross Stone." Rosetta passes a "you'll do" physical and lands in Jeremiah's unit, telling her stunned husband, "I signed on for this and there ain't a thing I have ever been made to feel proud of in my life but the doing of a job that needs doing." Sketching a hardscrabble portrait of subsistence farm life, McCabe portrays Rosetta brilliantly--think True Grit's Mattie Ross--as she narrates her story with energy, self-perception, courage and unremitting love for Jeremiah. McCabe's thorough research lends verisimilitude to army life, all cook fires, salt pork, hardtack, thin blankets and marches into terror. McCabe's descriptions of battle's chaos and mayhem--"I just want to walk into that water, any water, and wash myself clean, my clothes and all, letting the blood and everything swirl away"--is reminiscent of Crane's The Red Badge of Courage. Rosetta echoes the period perfectly, playing off against gender expectations in letters home and in conversations with the company commander's wife, the first to suspect her disguise, and with Will, a gentle, religious boy confused about his sexuality. Based on often overlooked history, McCabe offers an extraordinary novel, one creating a memorable character through which we relive our national cataclysm.

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I Shall Be Near To You 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Katres More than 1 year ago
Amazing, I loved this book and I couldn't put it down, finished it in two days! Rosetta isn't your typical women and when her husband leaves to fight in the Civil War she doesn't want to stay behind and do her mother in laws mending. Disguised as a man, she joins her husbands regiment, and fights with him and her childhood friends. Based on letters and research of real women who fought in the Civil War this is a entertaining, informative and heart wrenching novel. The love story between Rosetta and her husband Jeremiah is beautiful and real and I loved the flash backs to their younger years. Fighting together only makes their bond stronger and the author does a fantastic job showing this growth - you really become invested in the characters! If you read one book in 2014 read this one - its fantastic. And I rarely say this but I really want their to be a movie version as long as it stays true to the book! This story will stay with me for a long time!
Dakota_Rose More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have read in at least a year. As a retired librarian and professor of research skills, I want the historical books I read to be based on primary sources for authenticity. The dialogue and descriptions are indeed authentic. The descriptions of the battle scenes and emotions are gripping. Rosetta is so likeable that I was truly sorry when the book ended. This is a book that I expect to read at least once a year for a long time.
Beverly_D More than 1 year ago
Told in first person from the POV of a young farmgirl who follows her husband into the Civil War, this was an interesting read. The beginning was hard for me to get into. Rosetta was SO emotionally dependent upon her husband, both before and after they marry, and so bereft of an emotional connection with anyone else, that I wanted to chip in to send her  to a therapist. I could see why SHE wanted/needed to disguise herself and follow her husband into the Army; missing was what  HE saw in her. Their shared desire to own a farm and her tomboyish skills at building fences and milking cows did not seem particularly unique, that Jeremiah would want to marry HER and no other girl in the community. Later, in training camp, the character and story grew much stronger. I was fascinated by the dynamics of their little group, who knew the secret and helped protect it from discovery. Some threads were left dangling; for example, it was interesting for "Ross" to sneak into the woods with rags at the start of her menstrual period - but then what? There's no mention of her ever having to change them - did she use fresh rags and bury the soiled, or contrive to wash them, somehow, or what? Either would have been an interesting dilemma, but what she did isn't revealed. This was clearly deeply and thoroughly researched, if not 100% historically accurate, and I truly felt like I was in camp, and worse, in battle, with the 97th Regiment. Gritty, terrifying, heartbreaking. By the end of the book, I was hanging on, wondering how the story would end - would she be killed, or him, or both of them? I won't spoil the ending, but it made sense and felt satisfying.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LouieLB More than 1 year ago
This book was a little slow to start, but once you get to the fighting it was very hard to put down. I was sorry to see the way it ended, would have loved to see were they would have been in the next few years after the war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book because it was based on an actual living person. The book was highly entertaining and it was hard to put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an ok book. If you are looking for a detailed, graphic account of the battles this is not the book. The battles take up very little of the book. It did get me interested in looking into the real women in the civil war which i was oblivious to before. Would have prefered to have a more realistic view of the real rosetta wakefield instead of making it all about her following her man into the war. This is a romance set in civil war not a real civil war book. It was still a decent read though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is well written and well researched. Women did fight in the Civil War! Although this is primarily a love story, it is also a true history of the Civil war. Excellent historical fiction !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book brought to me the reality of war like nothing I have ever read or imagined. The author brought it so close I found myself carrying the emotions with me between reading times. I highly recommend this book!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would give it 10 stars if I could.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable novel. Fast moving.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings .  .  . Another historical fiction, but this one during the civil war and from the beginning, I was hooked!  Newly married Rosetta can't stand to stay in a house on her in-laws property, so she decides to join her husband in the war. Rosetta was a fantastic character.  She was likeable and it was easy to cheer her on in her endeavors, and maybe cringe too!  Even though this story is told from a woman's perspective I still felt the grittiness of war and it didn't lack the real truths of what life was like on the front lines.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Erin_Read-at-HomeMama More than 1 year ago
If you were to ask me why I love historical fiction so much, this is one of the books I would hand to you. Well-researched and well-written, I Shall Be Near to You is not only wonderful for-pleasure reading, but it’s also a book I wish had existed when I was studying American history in high school or college. The stories of female soldiers are not nearly as well-known or frequently discussed as those of their male counterparts, but their contributions to history are equally important. I think this book would have drawn a great deal more interest from the girls in my history classes than the textbooks we were given — we can’t exactly relate to the machismo of Generals Grant and Lee, you know? I connected to Rosetta on so many levels, which was a credit to both the character and her creator. (I’m not sure I would follow The Hubby into war if he enlisted, but I think that has to do with fear of being a terrible soldier and with being thrust into terrible violence and bloodshed and really not at all about Hubs.) Not only does Rosetta do exactly this, but she does it with virtually no fear and an incredible resolve. That alone is reason enough to cheer for her, but then she proceeds to become a more competent soldier than some of her male counterparts — all while keeping the huge secret of her true identity. She’s an incredibly strong, thoughtful woman and the fact that she’s based on a real person just makes her that much more admirable. I truly love that her husband is more important to her than really anything else in the world; as it was in the 1860s, women weren’t landowners and had no political roles, so their husbands were really all they had. That doesn’t mean these women had to be head-over-heels crazy about their spouses, but that’s exactly the case when it comes to Rosetta and Jeremiah. While he is unhappy about Rosetta voluntarily putting herself in danger to be with him, it turns out to be the greatest thing that could have happened to Jeremiah when it ultimately, truly matters. As for their regiment, I wanted to punch Hiram in the face (and I said as much during my live-tweeting) and give Will a huge hug. I also found myself wishing I could have known what happened to Will and all the other surviving members of the regiment after the end of the story. I also really wished that Rosetta hadn’t been so stubborn to refuse to take Will up on his offer; both of them could clearly use a friend and, after all they’ve been through together, why not each other? I Shall Be Near to You is a reminder that love is worth fighting for, and that it can survive in even the darkest of places. It’s a love story for the ages, and it belongs on the TBR pile of everyone with any kind of interest in historical fiction, love stories, or the Civil War. Even if you don’t have any interest in any of those things — if you just like to read beautifully detailed, strongly-written novels — I strongly suggest checking this out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. Couldn't put it down!
Mirella More than 1 year ago
This impressive novel, is the story of one woman’s bravery and gumption as she fights alongside men in one of the hardest fought civil wars in history. Author Erin Lindsay McCabe spent years researching the phenomenon of women disguised as men in order to fight a war. The novel begins with Sarah Rosetta Wakefield's early family life and her motivation to leave her family to join the army. The duties she was assigned and the battles she fought are based on her own story, and that of other women, who secretly enlisted in the army. In a poignant, authentic first person narrative, I could not help but to be drawn into the struggles and challenges Sarah so stoically faced. From first page to last, this was a gripping tale demonstrating the guts and glory and indescribably courage the few exemplary women demonstrated in order to be near their husbands or simply to seek to improve their circumstances for later in their lives.  "I Shall Be Near To You" is based on factual events, and is full of vibrancy and emotion. It is definitely a must read! Buy it for your mothers, wives, or daughters!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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