The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber is a novel which postulates that Christopher Marlowe–Elizabethan writer–hid his identity and became William Shakespeare after his arranged ‘murder.’ It is written in non-rhyming poetry.
WHY I PICKED IT UP
I found it in the new release aisle and its jacket blurb sounded good. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and found a collection of poems(I generally am not a fan of poetry)! But the poems work together to tell a story, so I feel better about that.
Also I like alternate history-type stories.
WHERE/WHY I STOPPED
I haven’t actually stopped (though I haven’t finished the sample yet) but I can already tell this is an excellent book. The author starts planting hooks when our first person narrator declares himself dead, then goes on to describe his flight from persecution through a series of poems.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING
Since poetry is not really my bag, (baby,) I have less to say constructive-criticism-wise. I can say that Barber’s writing is rich with metaphor, as much poetry is, so if that turns you off, beware.
Other than that, his meter is impeccable with no awkward phrasing. By breaking up the story into smaller chapter/poems Barber allows himself to alternate between prosaic styles and can control mood through meter.
He’s so good he reminds me of Milton (one of the only other epic poets I’ve read) but his language is more accessible to modern man than Milton’s.
Another important note for ebook readers–the original form of the poems can be ruined by wordwrap depending on your screen and font size. For me, it messed with how I read it, so I had to use a super tiny font. I’ll probably grab this one in print.
If you’re down for something different, literary, and interesting get this book. If you want to read to relax and unwind, this probably isn’t for you, but is still worth a look.