Today, I’m reviewing a historical fiction novel set in the Civil War. Civil War history has fascinated me for a while, so when I found out this book was based on the real-life experiences of women who disguised themselves as men and fought in the war, I was quite interested. I am always interested in reading about women who broke through social norms and why. Read on to see what I thought of this book.
Book: I Shall Be Near To You
Author: Erin Lindsay McCabe
Source: Free from author, part of the TLC tour
Readability Rating: 4 stars
Morality Rating: PG-13
Target Audience: Civil War buffs and girl-power fans
Buy it: Amazon
I Shall Be Near To You Book Summary (from Amazon)
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.
What I Liked Most
I loved the attention to detail in I Shall Be Near To You. One of my pet peeves in historical novels is characters who don’t act appropriate for the period. Rosetta (or Ross), is historically accurate. The small details, taken from letters of real women who fought in the war, really helped this book come to life. I loved that Rosetta didn’t immediately do everything amazingly well, and she was teased often for her soft-hearted ways. I think a women who was trying to pass herself off as a man would probably run into these same issues.
I also really appreciated that the book, although historical, was easy to read.
What I Liked Least
There wasn’t much I didn’t like in this story. In fact, I Shall Be Near To You is my favorite Civil War novel yet. However, I found the “country” writing, where the narration literally dropped “gs” and made use of words like “ain’t,” distracting. I don’t know if there was a better way to do it, but it did sort of break the fourth wall for me in spots, so to speak.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of the ending (although it was realistic), but I won’t spoil it for you.
I Shall Be Near To You is an amazing story of the courage and determination of women in the Civil War. I liked how the story showed women fighting for the cause in different ways. Of course, there was Rosetta, who decided to fight on the front lines; but the book also showed other ways in which women showed their strength during that time. Clara Barton is mentioned, who was famous for her medical work. There was also a fictional Captain’s wife who helped run the camp and did basic work at the hospitals along the way.
In many historical textbooks and stories, women are sort of minor characters who get pushed aside while the men do the “real” work, and I think that has led to the modern thought that women wern’t that important throughout history, but when the past is actually examined closely, it is easy to see how women had just as much (sometimes more) impact on the progression of history as the men.
I Shall Be Near To You is a book that women will appreciate, but I think it is also an important book for men as well.
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