I received a free copy of Mata Hari’s Last Dance from the publisher for my honest review.
About the Book:
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.
About the Author:
Michelle Moran is the internationally bestselling author of seven historical novels, including Rebel Queen, which was inspired by her travels throughout India. Her books have have been translated into more than twenty languages. A frequent traveler, Michelle currently resides with her husband and two children in the US. Visit her online at MichelleMoran.com.
What do you think when you hear Mata Hari?
I chose to read this book for just that reason – I don’t know that much about the woman behind the myth. I hear the name and I think spy. I’m sure the same happens for many of you. This novel starts with Mata Hari awaiting her fate but that fate is pretty much a foregone conclusion because the powers that be need someone blame the war situation on and a notorious woman of questionable morals proves to be a perfect option.
Then her story is told – well she tells her story but is it the truth or is it what she wants it to be? She was born in the Netherlands into a marriage that was not good. Margaretha Zelle leaves her childhood home and goes to live with her godfather but that doesn’t bring her what she is looking for. Next she marries – from an ad in the paper – and this gives her an upgrade in social status but also a husband that beats her. She leaves the marriage and soon evolves into the femme fatale known as Mata Hari.
I found the book to be very interesting. It’s not a big book but Ms. Moran gives a thoroughly researched view of her subject. As with any fictional depiction there is license taken but the tale hews to the facts. Was she a spy? You’ll have to read the book to find out – actually I’m not sure that it’s a question that was truly ever effectively answered. I found this bit of information somehow very sad; Mata Hari couldn’t even read most of the evidence against her because it was classified. How does one even defend against that? She was certainly a woman who went against the mores of her time. I’m not sure I would have liked her at all but I am not sure she deserved her fate.