Review: I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

Pub Date: January 28, 2014 | Crown Publishing | Hardcover; 320p

Acquired via Author | Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Genre: Historical Fiction

An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband, inspired by the letters of a remarkable female soldier who fought 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. 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.

With the army desperate for recruits, Rosetta has no trouble volunteering, although she faces an incredulous husband. She drills with the men, proves she can be as good a soldier as anyone, and deals with the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Rosetta's strong will clashes with Jeremiah's while their marriage is tested by broken conventions, constant danger, and war, and she fears discovery of her secret even as they fight for their future, and for their lives. Inspired by more than 250 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.

My Review

"And then I see the map, still on the bedside stand. I sit on the edge of the bed and unfold it carefully. Jeremiah has made a heart at Flat Creek and a star at Herkimer. But in the Nebraska Territory he has written, I shall always be near to you."

That old adage "you learn something new every day" is never truer than when you are a reader of historical fiction. For example, I never knew that there were women who disguised themselves as men and fought in the front lines of the American Civil War. Erin Lindsay McCabe's I Shall Be Near To You was inspired by the more than 250 reported cases of women fighting as men in the Civil War, and it's as fascinating as it sounds!

I Shall Be Near To You is an incredibly intriguing read! It didn't take long for me to get hooked and I hated having to put it down. It's the perfect mix of history, love, war, friendship, hardship, and hope. I was thinking as I was reading how it would make an amazing movie. I could totally see Hailee Steinfeld (the young actress from the movie Grit) as Rosetta.

Rosetta Wakefield is a woman after my own heart! Strong-willed, strong of heart, and tough as nails. If you are a lover of strong heroines then you will love her!

McCabe is an excellent writer, I was really impressed that this is her debut novel. The dialogue and dialect of the time felt genuine and authentic. I don't know about you but when I read in my head it always has the accent of the characters, and even though I've finished the book I find myself talking in her southern drawl and it makes me giggle. You'll find when you read the book that Rosetta isn't an easy character to forget. Her strength, passion, and determination were inspirational. I am very happy to have read I Shall Be Near To You and I whole-heartedly recommend that you check it out. It would be an excellent addition to an historical lovers bookshelf!

"He shakes and it is dark enough I can still say I ain't ever seen him cry. My heart goes cracking wide open, but at least I am alive to feel it. I am a different woman now, a wife who knows what this war really is. At least I am part of this war, part of the things Jeremiah's done here, things that will always be hiding somewhere in his heart."

About the Author

ERIN LINDSAY McCABE 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 before completing her MFA in Creative Writing at Saint Mary's College of California in 2010. She has taught Composition at both St. Mary's College and Butte College.

Erin loved writing from the moment she learned how-- cutting her teeth on sock puppet plays, bad poetry, short stories from the point of view of her horse. Now she prefers to focus on historical fiction-- a perfect outlet for a former diarist and pen pal letter writer.

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, ten chickens, and three goats (hopefully with Spring babies on the way!).


  1. Terrific review. I haven't been aware of this book but I want to read it now.

  2. Awesome review, Amy!! Now I want to read it more than I already did :)!!

  3. This sounds AMAZING! Definitely adding it to my TBR.

    Awesome review!

  4. I love learning fascinating thing about history from novels like this. It makes learning so much fun!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.


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