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I shall be near to you erin lindsay mccabeThis is the story about a young woman who decided to follow her bridegroom to the American Civil War disguised as a man.

Rosetta marries her childhood best friend, Jeremiah, but just after the wedding, the boy enlists in the army with other men in the village to fight against the rebels. Rosetta has grown up in a farm and she is not ready for all the housework and needlework her new family want her to do; besides, she just want to be with Jeremiah, so she leaves without telling anybody (what would they thought of her, dressed as a man and her hair cut!).

Rosetta becomes Private Ross Stone. Life with the soldiers isn’t easy, especially when you have to hide your gender among all those people, but it’s rewarding for Rossetta because she is with his husband and the friends she had since she was little. However, things will change dramatically when they actually go where the fight is taking place.

First of all, I loved the book. It’s a different story not only focused on battles or historical facts, but on the feelings of a woman among real danger, and how she tries to protect herself as well as her husband (the same does he, of course). In the army, Rosetta realizes that many of those men will never come back to their homes; she helps with nursing in a military hospital and witnesses all the horror they are about to face too, and she eventually gets to know that the men opposite her in the battlefield are as young, innocent and deserving of dying as she is.

The "real" Rosetta

The “real” Rosetta

Rosetta changes in the army, among all the different men she meets there, and also women who are always nursing the wounded, witnessing another part of the same terrible war. The author describes how the war was through the eyes of a sensitive and reflexive character who has become wiser throughout the days she spends fighting at her husband’s side. At the same time, you can’t say the book is sided with one of the parties involved; Rosetta just happens to be where her husband is, not for any reason but love.

However, there is a little detail I didn’t like about the novel: it is narrated by Rosetta using the present tense, which always sounds strange to me (more in Spanish, but now also in English) and, since Rosetta is a farmer with no higher education, the narration is conducted by short sentences, simple facts – especially at the beginning – and some grammatical mistakes I suppose were normal among people like her (he don’t matter or I don’t know nothing were ones I noticed). I think this makes the story more plausible, but it’s too much for my taste; I would rather read that language in the dialogues, but not throughout the entire book.

Anyway, this is a book I enjoyed very much. The story has an unforgettable main character and a great ending.

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I received this book from Netgalley.

I shall be near to you
Erin Lindsay McCabe
Crown Publishing
336 pages
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