Quilt camp intimidates me more than it should. Watching all the talent around me, I sip coffee, pretend to nod knowingly through the lectures, and hope I’ll be able to at least complete a placemat while everyone else finishes their queen-sized works of art. But the women around me are kind and generous, and one offered to trade books when I noted I had just finished mine. The book – Erin Lindsay McCabe’s “I Shall Be Near To You” – was a happy surprise and I read it in one night (when I probably should have been sewing).
Based on the real experiences of women who fought in the Civil War disguised as men, this fictionalized account of a young newlywed who follows her husband into war, has humor and realism. Using the letters of the real Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, McCabe’s narrative is easy to follow as she imagines the life of a woman pretending to be a male soldier. Although the down-home dialogue is distracting at times, Rosetta’s life as Ross Stone offers an important historical note – informative and entertaining.