Michelle Butler Hallett
Canada, Saint John Free Public Library
Canada, Goose Lane Editions
Author: Michelle Butler Hallett
1593, Queen Elizabeth reigns from the throne while two rival spymasters – Sir Robert Cecil and the Earl of Essex – plot from the shadows. Their goal? To control succession upon the aged queen’s death. The man on which their schemes depend? Christopher Marlowe, a cobbler’s son from Canterbury who has defied expectations and become an accomplished poet and playwright. Now that the plague has closed theatres, Marlowe must resume the work for which he was originally recruited: intelligence and espionage.
Fighting to stay one step ahead in a dizzying game that threatens the lives of those he holds most dear, Marlowe comes to question his allegiances and nearly everything he once believed. As tensions mount, he is tossed into an impossible bind. He must choose between paths that lead either to wretched guilt and miserable death or to love and honour.
An historical novel with a contemporary edge, This Marlowe measures the weight of the body politic, the torment of the flesh, and the state of the soul.
About the author
Michelle Butler Hallett calls St. John’s in Canada home. She has published one short story collection. The Shadow Side of Grace, and four novels, Double-blind, Sky Waves, Deluded Your Sailors, and This Marlowe.
This historical novel, based on the life of Christopher Marlowe, has been acclaimed by critics, writing colleagues, and community readers alike. It is a sophisticated work which challenges readers with a multifaceted narrative structure, subtly presented dialogue reminiscent of the period, and a graphic and meticulous depiction of the harsh realities of late Elizabethan England. Butler Hallett’s prose varies from poetic to “pitch black” (Alison Gilmour, Winnipeg Review). While firmly anchored in history, Butler Hallett uses psychologically complex characters to explore universal themes that resonate today: power: faith, loyalty, betrayal, ambition and love. She skilfully explores the contrast and conflict between body and spirit. Quill and Quire’s Patricia Maunder declares that This Marlowe “holds up extremely well next to the most lauded recent historical fiction”, shining a well-deserved light on Atlantic Canadian authors and New Brunswick’s independent publisher, Goose Lane Editions. Overall, This Marlowe is well worth the investment in time and concentration.
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