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The Spy A Novel by Paulo Coelho – Review

I was waiting eagerly for “The Spy by Paulo Coelho”. Due to work pressure, I was not able to read this novel when it arrived on a sleepy winter morning. I remember writing an essay about ‘Women who made history’ as an 8th grader. One of the books I referred to contained an entire section on women in espionage and the world-famous ‘Mata Hari’ aka ‘Marguerite Gertrude Zelle’ was in it.

I never felt so thrilled to read about a woman spy before, the three pages only told about who Mata Hari was & how she was accused of being a spy and later sentenced to death. Sadly, in those days I didn’t have access to the WEB of the internet and she slowly faded in my memory resurfacing from time to time when women & espionage were mentioned in one sentence.

Mata Hari The Spy Paulo Coelho

The beauty in all her GLORY like her name Mata Hari – SUN fully Shining.

Baptized in very strange circumstances. She is a woman who never let anyone steal the innocence that her eyes held. 

I do not know much about the life of women during the early 19th Century but I like to romanticize the early 19th century when women of European Societies dared to do things society didn’t allow them easily and defied the rules to become some women the history remembers today. Mata Hari is one of those women.

She ran away from her husband and country to become an artist in Paris, France. With her bold dance moves, she enchanted not only the men but even the women in the audience. Quickly she became a celebrated artist and courtesan of everyone’s dreams. Many women who claimed to be her successors. No one surpassed her.


Book Blurb: (As on the Cover)

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 1971, she was arrested in her hotel room on the Chamos-Elysees and accused of espionage.

Told in Mata Hari’s voice through her final letter, The Spy by Paulo Coelho is the unforgettable story of a woman who dared to defy convention and paid the ultimate price.

Mata Hari The Spy Paulo Coelho

    15 October 2017 will mark the 100th Year since Mata Hari was sentenced to death.


The woman (Mata Hari) always carried the seeds of Tulip Flowers that her mother gave her as a symbol.

Even the tallest trees are able to grow from tiny seeds like these. Remember this, and try not to push time.” She says.

Sometimes I can’t help but feel like Mata Hari was a woman out of her time, she was at the wrong places at the wrong times. Paulo Coelho tries to give her story a voice through her last letter in a beautiful way. He also tells the story from her lawyer & also ex-lover’s point of view, Mr. Edouard Clunet.

In his writing, Mr. Clunet tells Mata Hari about a Greek Myth related to Psyche & Eros. Psyche’s father tells her to go to the mountain in mourning clothes where a serpent will marry her before dawn. She does so and in the freezing cold of the mountain, she fell asleep. When she awakens she finds herself a beautiful palace, as a queen. Her husband, Eros comes every night to her and makes love to her, she fell in love with him but he tells her never to see his face. Since she fears having married a serpent, one night she looks at her sleeping husband’s face. However, Eros wakes up and disappears. Mr. Clunet tells that he feels love is the same as this story and goes on to explain why he thinks so.

Mata Hari WWI Paulo Coelho The Spy

                  How many such clippings about Mata Hari are there?

There are many thoughts in this novel that are worth remembering. Here’s one such, though…

When we don't know where life is taking us, we are never lost. Mata Hari, The Spy, Paulo Coelho Click To Tweet

Clouds of mystery shroud Mata Hari. I plan to read the books suggested by Paulo Coelho at the end of the novel; 1. Pat Shipman’s Femme Fatale: Love, Lies and the Unknown Life Of Mata Hari (Harper Collins, 2007); 2. Philippe Collas’s Mata Hari, Sa Veritable Histoire (Plon: Paris, 2003). 

Buy The Book: Flipkart – Amazon

There is a series going on about Mata Hari in the French Language which I am more than eager to watch but don’t know where to watch it. :/ Help??

If you like WWI stories, especially of a woman spy, do give it a read. 🙂

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8 Comments

  1. Coelho Is a consecrated and succesful writer … It is great to learn about Mata Hari in his account, which you have beautifully reviewed here… as always certain women could be considered dangerous (Probably because of their jobs, in this case)…
    I loved the anecdotes concerning the tulips seeds she always carried with herself and the greek myth his lawyer-lover told her…. Seems like a great reading! 😀 thank you very much for sharing! 😉

    • Thanks for this wonderful comment Aquileana. I loved those parts too and felt like sharing it so people can know the book is interesting and not just a simple account of Mata Hari’s life. 🙂 I hope you have fun reading the book. 🙂

  2. my husband gave me this book as christmas present and i can’t wait to read it. this was a great review, i think i’ll start it reading today. 😀

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