Toronto Star

This Marlowe

Michelle Butler Hallett Goose Lane, 438 pages, $32.95


The age-old mystery surroundin­g the murder of playwright Christophe­r Marlowe, who could have been Shakespear­e but wasn’t, inspired Michelle Butler Hallett to write This Marlowe, set in1593 as the reign of Queen Elizabeth was coming to a close and spymasters Sir Robert Cecil and the Earl of Essex were conspiring to control who succeeded her. Enter Christophe­r Marlowe, a talented poet and playwright who must find other work once the plague closes down theatres. He has no choice but to return to his previous life, one of espionage and intelligen­ce. And, soon, he is losing control, losing hope, at risk of losing everything and everyone he loves. Butler Hallett’s prose is at once canny and tender. This is a novel set deep in history, but the themes, particular­ly about the ability of power to corrupt, resonate today. This is also a story about art and freedom and all the sides of love: the dark and the light, the redemptive and the ruinous. Perfectly paced and gracefully wrought,

This Marlowe is superior historical fare.

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