I Shall Be Near to You is the first book by author Erin Lindsay McCabe. For a first novel, it was great! BUT…It only gets 3 stars from me because it just never transported me off the pages and into the world of the story. For me, that’s the hallmark of a great book…when I forget I’m reading. Sadly, it didn’t happen with this book.
Rosetta Wakefield is a young newlywed who follows her husband into the civil war. The author’s notes at the end of I Shall Be Near to You recount the stories of some REAL women who did just that. It is a fascinating concept…going to war as a woman disguised as a man.
The fictional Rosetta takes on the persona of Ross Stone and does indeed follow her husband, even to the point of fighting at Antietam. Seeing the war through a woman’s eyes is enlightening. Still, the story just didn’t grab me and draw me in. I saw other reviewers who cried at a certain part of the story (omitted from this review for spoliers). I didn’t cry a tear. I wasn’t witnessing an emotional moment, let alone living one. I was just reading about it.
A minor criticism: at one point the author refers to pupils which are dilated from laudanum. As a nurse, I groaned at this small error. Opiods (which laudanum is) make the pupils constrict, not dilate.
I often judge books on a reread or don’t reread scale. This is in the latter category.
The Captain’s Bride by Lisa Tawn Bergren is the saga of a group of Norweigans who imigrate from Bergen to the United States. Elsa and Peder Ramsted are newlyweds, heading to the US to begin a shipbuilding company while Peder continues his duties as a ship’s captain. Peder’s friend, Karl Martensen, intends to partner with him in the shipyard venture and is secretly in love with Elsa. Elsa’s sister, Tora, stows away in an act of rebellion after her parents refuse to allow her to emigrate. Kaatje Jansen and husband, Soren, leave Norway with an already tenuous marriage.
There are many twists and turns in the plot, but I found the book slow and plodding, devoid of much drama (other than relationship drama). I had to force myself to keep reading for at least the first third of the book. Eventually the plot became more interesting but there was no resolution to any of the dilemas the characters faced. It was just like real life….stuff happens: some of it is related, some of it is not, some of it is bad, some of it is good…unfinished. Admittedly, the book is the first of a trilogy, so there is need to carry over to the sequel, but the plot line is so unresolved that I feel like I just quit reading in the middle of a (fairly dull, and rather ‘soap opera-ish’) novel.
I am a detail oriented person and I also found some of the details annoying. In one scene, Elsa is in a storm on the ship and she struggles to get the door open against the wind. When she returns to the cabin she struggles to get it closed because of the wind. If the wind was blowing against the door when she left, wouldn’t it blow it closed forcefully (not needing to fight to close it again) when she came back? The phrase “hear, hear” is used a couple of times and at least once it reads “here, here” (incorrect usage, although common…at least be consistent!).
For a book categorized as historical fiction, there was little history and only rather yawn-inducing fiction. The story was set in the 1800s but there were scant details included that would not be deduced by watching most period dramas on TV. Sad to say, but I really didn’t like the book remotely enough to buy two more to find out what happened to the characters. Two stars is a generous rating.
**I was provided with a complementary copy of this book in exchange for a review. The views expressed are solely my own.**
When Marielle marries Connor she becomes an instant mother to his children. His wife, Sara, passed away in childbirth four years earlier. Marielle leaves all that she has known to become his wife and she moves to the home that he lived in with Sara – a stately manor which bears the scars of the Civil War: Holly Oak.
Holly Oak has been in the family for generations and there are rumors that the house has a “memory” of the trauma it has witnessed over the years. Surely, there was trauma. The house still bears the wound of a Union cannonball in the north wall.
“A Sound Among the Trees” is a superbly written novel by seasoned author, Susan Meissner. She weaves a tale of “now” and “then” together beautifully. The novel begins with Marielle and Connor’s wedding and that sets the stage for a story that weaves throughout many generations of southern women who lived at Holly Oak.
This is not a “haunted house” story so if you’re looking for one of those, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a novel with rich character development, a thought-provoking theme (there are discussion questions at the end of the book — perfect for book clubs) and a lyrical glimpse into life in Virginia during the Civil War…look no further.
**I received a complementary copy of this book in exchange for an impartial review as part of the publisher’s Blogging For Books program.**