From the international bestselling author of Rebel Queen and Nefertiti comes a captivating novel about the infamous Mata Hari, exotic dancer, adored courtesan, and, possibly, relentless spy.
Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.
As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.
From Indian temples and Parisian theatres to German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.
Mata Hari is a fascinating person who many people, especially women, will not like. Not every protaganist has to be liked, and Mata Hari is not a usual type of heroine we find in books. Promiscuous and a notorious flirt, she was a woman who fell on hard circumstances who had no choice but to use her beauty and body to earn a living. She pushed the limits in dance and in chasing and using men for her own benefit. One constancy in the novel was her love and regrets pertaining to her daughter. And this helped humanize her, redeem her a bit in the reader's eyes.
The book is perfect length and an easy read. Michelle Moran balances Mata Hari's passions and motivations in a realistic way. I did begin to like her and feel sorry for her and the mess she had made of her life. Of course, the novel did not dwell too heavily on the trial and convinction, but the execution scene was heart-wrenching and poignant. The book left me feeling more like Mata Hari was used as a scapegoat and I did not fully believe she was calculating enough to be such a dangerous spy. I had a sense that politics and cover-ups may have been at play as other readily blamed her to save their own skin.
This is an excellent historical biography about a notorious woman of history and left me feeling unconvinced about the hand that fate dealt her. Highly recommended.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog, http://greathistoricals.blogspot.ca, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit http://www.historyandwomen.com.