The Spy by the acclaimed Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho deals with the life of one of the most enigmatic woman in history: Mata Hari. The book arrests readers’ attention from the beginning itself with the first chapter detailing Mata Hari’s execution by the firing squad. Setting the right tone, the writer keeps the pace till the end of the book.
Mata Hari- born Margaretha Zelle- escapes an abusive husband and arrives penniless in Paris. Within a few months, she became the most sought after woman in the city. As an exotic dancer, she shocked and delighted her elite audience and bewitched the rich and the famous. Her lavish lifestyle brought her under suspicion when the World War I broke out. She was arrested from her hotel room in 1917 and charged with espionage. Though the evidence against her was not concrete enough, yet she was sentenced to death. She was an innocent woman who was convicted as a scapegoat to divert people’s attention from military failures.
The book narrates Mata Hari’s story through her final letter in which she speaks of paying the ultimate price for defying conventions. It is a short but impressive read which will make you feel Mata Hari’s passion, enthusiasm, loneliness, betrayal, shame and disgrace. It’s a tragic but compelling story of a woman quite ahead of her times.
I recommend this book for two reasons: First because it is about Mata Hari, a mysterious and alluring historical figure we know so less about and secondly because it is written by Paulo Coelho, my favorite author. This quick read is an intriguing tale of a complex woman who was sought by all but loved by none. If you are looking for something easy, interesting and quick to read then go for this one. I am sure you will enjoy it.
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