Here Was a Man: A Novel of Sir Walter Raleigh and Elizabeth l
Here Was a Man, by bestselling author Norah Lofts, has been reissued, and like all of Lofts’s works, is carefully crafted and beautifully paced. The novel follows the life of Sir Walter Raleigh, the adventurer loved and admired by Queen Elizabeth I. A scene from young Walter’s early life begins the novel, setting the stage for his love of adventure. From there, readers follow his lifelong dream of exploring and settling the New World for his beloved queen. Raleigh makes an impression at court and with the queen, quickly falling into favor with her, but he soon realizes that Elizabeth is not easy to please and would rather have him by her side in England than exploring. Raleigh defies Queen Elizabeth by marrying one of her headstrong ladies-in-waiting without her permission and finds himself the victim of Elizabeth’s wrath as he waits in the Tower of London for her anger to subside. Eventually he is released and settles down with his wife and son to a house in the country. However, he is not content for very long and soon begins to pursue his love of exploration again.
Lofts is a master at depicting the complex relationships that exist between Raleigh, Queen Elizabeth, and Raleigh’s wife. Several period players are present in the book including William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, who kept company with Raleigh. Through Raleigh’s interaction with these men, Lofts successfully shows the two sides of Raleigh’s personality, that of a poet and writer and that of the explorer and adventurer. A tale of great accomplishments and stunning defeats, Here Was a Man takes readers on a journey that traces Raleigh’s rise and fall at courts of Elizabeth I and James I, his expeditions to South America, and his final moments on the executioner’s block. Highly recommended.