The spy A novel

Paulo Coelho

Book - 2016

"A novel of Mata Hari's final days, as written by the woman herself while accused of espionage" --

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FICTION/Coelho, Paulo
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Subjects
Genres
Spy stories
Biographical fiction
Historical fiction
Published
New York : Alfred A. Knopf 2016.
Edition
First American edition
Language
English
Portuguese
Item Description
"Originally published in Brazil as A Espiã by Editora Paralela, a divsion of Editora Schwarcz S.A., São Paulo, in 2016"--Title page verso.
Physical Description
190 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
ISBN
9781524732066
1524732060
Main Author
Paulo Coelho (author)
Other Authors
Zoë Perry (translator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

The upcoming centenary of Mata Hari's controversial execution has sparked renewed interest in the notorious dancer, courtesan, and possible spy. Michelle Moran wrote a novel about her, Mata Hari's Last Dance (2016). Now the beloved Coelho (Manuscript Found in Accra, 2013) detours from his mystical path, providing a more traditional, yet still philosophical, fictional memoir of a woman who paid the ultimate price for daring to defy convention in a time and a place where a war was raging, and justice was consequently distorted. Drawing parallels with the French Revolution, Coelho uses Mata Hari's story to illustrate how an individual's fate can be caught up in the effort by the powers-that-be to distract the public from the horrific realities of their circumstances. Narrated in a last letter sharing her life story, Mata Hari's fascinating past unfolds in matter-of-fact detail, culminating in her execution on charges of espionage. As an independent woman living life by her own rules, she is ultimately condemned by a society not only seeking diversion but also determined to punish her audacity. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Coelho has a tremendous and loyal following, and his latest will also attract historical fiction fans and those intrigued by Mata Hari's eternal allure. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Coelho's striking novel about Margaretha Zelle, aka Mata Hari, the Dutch courtesan and "exotic" dancer who was executed in 1917 for treason and in all likelihood was innocent, unfolds through letters to her lawyer that she hopes will be given to her daughter if she is killed. Smooth, assured writing reveals a woman who refuses to be a victim: "someone who moved forward with courage, fearlessly paying the price she had to pay." She was raped by her headmaster at school and abused by her husband (a Dutch military officer), and she retaliated by exploiting the European love of the mysterious Orient through her "Eastern" veil dances. Although the novel is not Coelho's strongest work, the ending is brilliant in its irony, and throughout, he displays an ability to inhabit her voice. Through the letters, he illustrates the difficulties of being an independent woman in that time and place. By the end, readers will believe they've read Zelle's actual letters. (Nov.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly Annex.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A tale inspired by the life and death of Mata Hari is presented as a series of letters written from prison on the eve of her death and includes her reflections on her childhood in a small Dutch town, her unhappy years as the wife of an alcoholic diplomat, her rise to celebrity in Europe and the choices that led to her execution for espionage.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

In a series of letters written from prison on the eve of her death, Mata Hari reflects on her childhood, her years as the wife of an alcoholic diplomat, her rise to celebrity, and the choices that led to her execution for espionage.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"A novel of Mata Hari's final days, as written by the woman herself while accused of espionage" --

Review by Publisher Summary 4

In his new novel, Paulo Coelho, bestselling author of The Alchemist and Adultery, brings to life one of history's most enigmatic women: Mata Hari. 

HER ONLY CRIME WAS TO BE AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN
 
When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless.  Within months she was the most celebrated woman in the city.
 
As a dancer, she shocked and delighted audiences; as a courtesan, she bewitched the era’s richest and most powerful men.
 
But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari’s lifestyle brought her under suspicion. In 1917, she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees, and accused of espionage.
 
Told in Mata Hari’s voice through her final letter, The Spy is the unforgettable story of a woman who dared to defy convention and who paid the ultimate price.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

In his new novel, Paulo Coelho, bestselling author of The Alchemist and Adultery, brings to life one of history's most enigmatic women: Mata Hari. HER ONLY CRIME WAS TO BE AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN   When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless.  Within months she was the most celebrated woman in the city.   As a dancer, she shocked and delighted audiences; as a courtesan, she bewitched the era’s richest and most powerful men.   But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari’s lifestyle brought her under suspicion. In 1917, she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees, and accused of espionage.   Told in Mata Hari’s voice through her final letter, The Spy is the unforgettable story of a woman who dared to defy convention and who paid the ultimate price.