“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.”
I picked this one up randomly at the library at the very last second, after spending over half an hour looking for the perfect read. And I’m pleased to say that Paulo Coelho impressed me and then some.
The Spy has brilliant starting point with the first chapter starting on Mata Hari’s execution by firing squad. I was nearly impossible to put it down after; it set just the right tone for the rest of tale.
When Mata Hari – born Margaretha Zelle – 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.
Also, these next quotes are all I’ve thinking about since reaching the last page:
“Flowers teach us that nothing is permanent: not their beauty, not even the fact that they will inevitably wilt, because they will still give new seeds. Remember this when you feel joy, pain, or sadness. Everything passes, grows old, dies, and is reborn.”
“But women are able to understand one another without exchanging a word.”
“When we don’t know where life is taking us, we are never lost.”
I’m still in limbo after finishing this book.
The writing truly made me feel Mata Hari’s passions, enthusiasm, loneliness, shame, pride, betrayal, and sadness. A short but impactful read, the narrative structure of The Spy shifts among the perspectives of Mata Hari, her attorney, and factual source documents. But I do have to say that ending the story from the point of view of her attorney was quite a disappointment to me. I mean, we left Mata Hari at such a crucial point, she had just recited Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose in such beautifully tragic way, and I was starting to feel that more attached to her.
“That was my life; I am the nightingale who gave everything and died while doing so.”
But then we move on to her lawyer, and all my love was gradually forgotten. I’m still contemplating as to why this phenomenal book was ended with his point of view. However, I am eternally grateful that The Spy introduced me both to Paulo Coelho’s fast-paced writing and the history behind Mata Hari, who I’ll be researching for the next few hours.
To put it simply, this was an educating, insightful and unputdownable read that puts everything in perspective. I started and finished this in the same day. SO GOOD.
Also, I really appreciated the pictures scattered throughout this novel:This part of the history is something that, I’m sure, will haunt me for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to explore more of Paulo Coelho’s works and novels next.