Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“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
“A gripping story, and McCabe's writing gives it considerable impact; I Shall Be Near to You is a memorable addition to the literature of the Civil War.” San Jose Mercury News
“Compellingly authentic.” ELLE
About the Author
Erin Lindsay Mccabe studied Literature at University of California, Santa Cruz, and taught high school English before completing her MFA at St. Mary's College of California in 2010. She has taught Composition at St. Mary's and Butte College and resides in Northern California with her husband and son and a small menagerie that includes one dog, four cats, two horses, ten chickens, and two goats.