The Spy: A Novel Of Mata Hari by Paulo CoelhoThe Spy: A Novel Of Mata Hari by Paulo Coelho

The Spy: A Novel Of Mata Hari

byPaulo Coelho

Paperback | June 27, 2017

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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.
PAULO COELHO’s life remains the primary source of inspiration for his books. He has flirted with death, escaped madness, dallied with drugs, withstood torture, experimented with magic and alchemy, studied philosophy and religion, read voraciously, lost and recovered his faith, and experienced the pain and pleasure of love. In searching...
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Title:The Spy: A Novel Of Mata HariFormat:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 7.99 × 5.15 × 0.59 inPublished:June 27, 2017Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0525432795

ISBN - 13:9780525432791

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Fantastic Read Over Far Too Soon I have literally read everything this author has written, and without a doubt there is not a single book of his that I have not liked. This one, is no exception. However - I found the build up ended far too quickly. Granted - that may have been because I finished the book in a couple hours cover-to-cover, but I supposed I expected a little bit more from such an incredible and fascinating concept and topic. The idea of this book right from the beginning had me hooked, so much so that I actually found myself counting the days to have the hardcopy in my hands. Once I began reading it, there was no exception- I was without a doubt absolutely hooked. The writing as per norm was spectacular, the story concept brilliant, and grasping the history behind this woman that by all means was notably a vast feminist (and martyr) of her time was inspiring. But then it was just...over, with a bit of a spin that slightly caught me off guard and left me feeling like something was missing. Wish it could have been longer.
Date published: 2017-11-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Easy to read Easy to read but lacks of essential content about Mata Hari, Coelho has done better
Date published: 2017-11-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I'm impressed This book was a complete cover buy. And I'll admit, I've yet to read any of Coelho's other books - this was my first. I'm impressed. The Spy is a novel about Mata Hari, written in the format of her final letter to her lawyer before execution. Her voice is quite unique, with a tendency to brag and gloss over details. So much so, that I was left wondering what part of her narrative was actual truth. The novel ends with a letter to her from her lawyer, which unveils some of her lies and glossed over details. It almost made her sound delusional. It was a nice touch for an ending, although the sudden change in tone threw me a little. So was Mata Hari a feminist before her time, punished for living freely? It's definitely a question I want to explore a bit more, as I know quite little about her. And now I'm definitely interested in reading some more of Coelho's work.
Date published: 2017-11-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Expected more I am a big fan of the author and I suggest all his books. This book was okay. I mean it was really well written but it did not make me think as much as other ones. The other ones changed my point of view in life completely. Especially Alchemist.
Date published: 2017-10-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Insightful I've heard the Mata Hari so many times but never really knew who she was. I think this was a good introduction to her and her story.
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Beautifully written depiction of Mata Hari's final days This short novel was beautifully written, I only wish it was a bit longer. I would have loved to have learned more about Mata Hari's personal life before becoming an infamous dancer and "spy." Nevertheless, this book has made me want to read more and learn more about her - it's captured my interest and I'm always pleasantly surprised when something like that happens.
Date published: 2017-09-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Completely different than most of Paulo Coelho's style I have read ALL of Paulo Coelho's books and love his poetic and deep style... This book is totally different and I loved learning about Maha Ratti. It was very touching and still beautifully written. An easy summer read that takes you away to a different time....
Date published: 2017-08-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Easy read I love Paulo Coelho! This book was such a quick read, I was able to finish in a few hours. Follows the tale of Mata Hari, the spy but in a purely fictional manner. It was interesting!
Date published: 2017-07-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Spy Great story. Wish it would have been a little bit longer.
Date published: 2017-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great insight into a mysterious life... What a fascinating read! I’d read a few novels based on Mata Hari but I couldn’t wait to read the one written by Paul Coelho. Using her last letter for the story is a brilliant starting point and the opening scene – for it reads like a film. Written in her voice and from her point of view I felt I really got inside her mind although I often didn’t agree with her, I learned to see things from her perspective at times but she still shocked me! Even though there were parts of the story I knew this was a fresh approach and a new angle to her life and times. A beguiling woman and figure The Paris of Mata Hari is one of theatres, dances with veils and performances which hide more than they reveal. An iconic and mysterious figure brought to life on the page A lovely touch was the photographs scattered throughout the book – made the book feel like a scrapbook of her life and this made it all the more enchanting.
Date published: 2016-11-27

Read from the Book

Part IDear Mr. Clunet,I do not know what will happen at the end of this week. I have always been an optimistic woman, but time has left me bitter, alone, and sad.If things turn out as I hope, you will never receive this letter. I’ll have been pardoned. After all, I spent my life cultivating influential friends. I will hold on to the letter so that, one day, my only daughter might read it to find out who her mother was.But if I am wrong, I have little hope that these pages, which have consumed my last week of life on Earth, will be kept. I have always been a realistic woman and I know that, once a case is settled, a lawyer will move on to the next one without a backward glance.I can imagine what will happen after. You will be a very busy man, having gained notoriety defending a war criminal. You will have many people knocking at your door, begging for your services, for, even defeated, you attracted huge publicity. You will meet journalists interested to hear your version of events, you will dine in the city’s most expensive restaurants, and you will be looked upon with respect and envy by your peers. You will know there was never any concrete evidence against me—only documents that had been tampered with—but you will never publicly admit that you allowed an innocent woman to die.Innocent? Perhaps that is not the right word. I was never innocent, not since I first set foot in this city I love so dearly. I thought I could manipulate those who wanted state secrets. I thought the Germans, French, English, Spanish would never be able to resist me—and yet, in the end, I was the one manipulated. The crimes I did commit, I escaped, the greatest of which was being an emancipated and independent woman in a world ruled by men. I was convicted of espionage even though the only thing concrete I traded was the gossip from high-society salons.Yes, I turned this gossip into “secrets,” because I wanted money and power. But all those who accuse me now know I never revealed anything new.It’s a shame no one will know this. These envelopes will inevitably find their way to a dusty file cabinet, full of documents from other proceedings. Perhaps they will leave when your successor, or your successor’s successor, decides to make room and throw out old cases.By that time, my name will have been long forgotten. But I am not writing to be remembered. I am attempting to understand things myself. Why? How is it that a woman who for so many years got everything she wanted can be condemned to death for so little?At this moment, I look back at my life and realize that memory is a river, one that always runs backward.Memories are full of caprice, where images of things we’ve experienced are still capable of suffocating us through one small detail or insignificant sound. The smell of baking bread wafts up to my cell and reminds me of the days I walked freely in the cafés. This tears me apart more than my fear of death or the solitude in which I now find myself.Memories bring with them a devil called melancholy—oh, cruel demon that I cannot escape. Hearing a prisoner singing, receiving a small handful of letters from admirers who were never among those who brought me roses and jasmine flowers, picturing a scene from some city I didn’t appreciate at the time. Now it’s all I have left of this or that country I visited.The memories always win, and with them comes a demon that is even more terrifying than melancholy: remorse. It’s my only companion in this cell, except when the sisters decide to come and chat. They do not speak about God, or condemn me for what society calls my “sins of the flesh.” Generally, they say one or two words, and the memories spout from my mouth, as if I wanted to go back in time, plunging into this river that runs backward.One of them asked me:“If God gave you a second chance, would you do anything differently?”I said yes, but really, I do not know. All I know is that my current heart is a ghost town, one populated by passions, enthusiasm, loneliness, shame, pride, betrayal, and sadness. I cannot disentangle myself from any of it, even when I feel sorry for myself and weep in silence.I am a woman who was born at the wrong time and nothing can be done to fix this. I don’t know if the future will remember me, but if it does, may it never see me as a victim, but as someone who moved forward with courage, fearlessly paying the price she had to pay.

Bookclub Guide

US1. The narrative structure of The Spy shifts among the perspectives of Mata Hari, her attorney, and factual source documents. What does this assert about subjectivity in recounting historical events? How is the true version of the events leading up to Mata Hari’s execution destabilized throughout the reading experience of The Spy? What does the sober presentation of the conclusion of the novel suggest about justice?2. Discuss the significance of the epigraph that opens The Spy. How does it act as a presage of tone for the novel? How does Coelho’s choice to begin the book with an account of Mata Hari’s death establish mood and setting? 3. Discuss Mata Hari’s childhood. How would you describe her relationship with her parents? Her hometown? How does her mother’s advice to “follow your destiny, whatever it may be, with joy” shape her outlook and worldview?4. Early in the narrative, Mata Hari reflects on her sexual assault at the hands of her school principal. How does this incident influence her attitude toward sex? Toward men in general? How—and when—does she reclaim her sexuality?5. On page 20, Mata Hari plainly states, “All the men I’ve known have given me joy, jewelry, or a place in society, and I’ve never regretted knowing them . . .”  How does this unabashed attitude toward sex, money, and fame grate against expected feminine behavior? How do men in the novel react to this brazen reach for power, success, and material wealth? How does she use men as necessary pawns for fulfilling her dreams?6. Discuss the evolution of Mata Hari’s relationship with her husband. When they first meet, how does she view marriage as an institution? How does she contend with her husband’s  abuse? How is their marriage affected by the death of their son?7. The scene in which Andreas’s wife commits suicide is formative for Mata Hari’s identity. How does she describe this incident? How did this episode propel her to take agency over her own life?8. Describe Mata Hari’s choice to rename herself. What is the significance of her renaming? How does this assertion of a new identity allow her to explore the unruliest aspects of her personality? 9. Mata Hari was of Dutch descent, but she expresses throughout The Spy that her true home is Paris. Why does she feel a spiritual connection to that city? How do Parisians’ attitudes toward her change as she ages? As political tensions mount?10. How does Mata Hari describe dance? Discuss her first performance of the “traditional” dance of Java. How is cultural appropriation discussed throughout the novel?11. On page 87, Mata Hari asserts, “For me, love and power were the same thing.” When is this conflation demonstrated most vividly during the novel? How do masculine figures in her life contend with her grasp for power? When does Mata Hari’s power become most problematic? With whom does she share real affection?12. How are personal secrets and political treachery interwoven throughout the narrative?  Discuss the paranoia that emerges among male authority figures in the novel as political tensions flare. How does Mata Hari’s presence agitate them? How does she treat her responsibilities as H21? 13. How would you describe the working relationship between Mata Hari and her manager, Astruc? Discuss the scene on the beach in which Mata Hari reveals the true facts of her background to him. How does this alter their relationship? Discuss her decision to take the gig in Germany, despite the country’s express anti-Semitism. How did you interpret her decision? Was it out of impetuousness or for reasons of financial security?14. The tension between private and public selves is explored throughout The Spy. How is Mata Hari’s view of herself enhanced, sated, or complicated by her public stature? How does her public presentation differ from the reality of her existence toward the end of her life? Discuss how she “constructs” her persona from a young age. 15. While incarcerated, Mata Hari writes, “Though at the moment I am a prisoner, my spirit remains free.” (103) How does Mata Hari define freedom? Does the tone of her personal account indicate any sense of guilt or regret at her actions?

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Paulo Coelho and The Spy   “[The Spy is a] masterful new novel.” --Bookpage   “Coelho, whose books have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, has taken the Mata Hara story and fashioned it into a short dynamo of a novel.” --Los Angeles Times   “A striking novel. . . . By the end, readers will believe they’ve read [Mata Hari’s] actual letters.” --Publisher’s Weekly   “Coelho has created a portrait of an anachronistic woman, who was destroyed by her times and became a legend.” --Paste Magazine   “A novelist who writes in a universal language.” --The New York Times   “Spiritualists and wanderlusts will eagerly devour . . . [Coelho’s] search for all things meaningful.” --The Washington Post