I absolutely love historical fiction and read a lot of it; I love to learn history this way. I also enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller and non-fiction science.
" ...there's still most men who can't see a thing a woman does, even when she's doing them right under his nose."
Rosetta Wakefield loves her husband dearly, so much that she can not stand to be apart from him. When her husband leaves early in their marriage to join the Union effort in the Civil War, Rosetta soon cuts her hair, dons men's clothing and trudges her way up to his camp in order to enlist and fight by his side.
I love stories that tell of strong women throughout our history. In I Shall Be Near To You, Erin Lindsay McCabe masterfully weaves the information we know of the countless real-life women soldiers from the Civil War into the fictional story of Rosetta Wakefield. This was beautifully written and I had a hard time parting with Rosetta's story, even when it was heart-breaking. I felt an instant bond to Rosetta's character within the first few pages. She does not quite fit the role of a women for her time, she can't sit still, she says what she means, she would rather be outside doing men's work and she has strong emotions. Rosetta's love for her childhood friend, Jeremiah is sweet but fierce and the bond is not forced. There are flashbacks throughout the book that give the inside look to their relationship, imperfections and all.
One of the things that I have always wondered about women who have fought as males in the Civil War was how they managed to cover up their identities for so long. McCabe tackles some of these issues with Rosetta, it of course helped that Rosetta was with her husband and was able to share a tent, but there were also other men from her town that knew her secret. Rosetta had to bind herself, take care of her business farther away, and deal with her menstrual cycle. She also had to learn how to not stand with her hand on her hip and run with a larger stride. Rosetta's time within the Union Camp and within battles was the most intriguing, giving an inside, intimate look to the time period and a camp during the Civil War. Rosetta drills with the men and learns to shoot, she also uses her limited cooking skills and cares for the wounded, she becomes a valuable part of her regiment.
Compelling and unforgettable, Rosetta's story is valuable as insight into just one of the many women who fought in the Civil War under the guise of a male.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.