Hello all…It’s been so long!
This final semester kicked my butt. I managed to read just two books in January/early February (which I did not review but would 100% recommend as they were both excellent – A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf and Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin) before having to turn all my attention to schoolwork. BUT I just moved into a new apartment, where my stack of to-be-read books is nicely organized, and a new library card has been secured so I am back with a vengeance! The current plan is still to read 26 books within the year; right now, that means I’ll need to read about 3 books a month, which is a pace I’ve done before, so I think we can make it happen.
Title – The Spy
Author – Paulo Coelho
Page count – 186
Year Published – 2016
Recommendation – I want to read this one again to know for sure how I feel about it. My initial impression was that it’s an intriguing story (based on real events, which is pretty cool) that makes you think about narrative (un)reliability. From whose perspective a story is being told can greatly change what we hear and what we are encouraged to believe is true.
**CW for the book: suicide, rape/sexual assault, a firing squad scene**
This book is based on the true story of Mata Hari, a famous exotic dancer who was (wrongly?) accused of being a spy for Germany during World War I. The book opens with her final moments of life. The rest is a series of letters, mostly from Mata’s perspective, recounting her life and the events that led to her being accused of espionage.
While “innocent” isn’t necessarily the first word that comes to mind to describe Mata Hari, the “crimes” for which she was actually tried in the court of public opinion – and which were used to justify her espionage accusation – were her hunger for power and fame, and use of sex to manipulate men into providing for her lavish lifestyle. People love a beautiful woman for entertainment, but she crosses a line once she asserts her own desires and fails to pretend she’s ashamed of her sexuality.
The following is a snippet from Mata’s lawyer, to Mata Hari, addressing this:
“[I wrote] a book telling the injustice of which you were victim for the sin of being a woman, for the greater sin of being free, for the immense sin of stripping in public, for the dangerous sin of getting involved with men whose reputation needed to be maintained at any cost.” (p. 168)