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Publisher's Summary

In his new novel, Paulo Coelho, best-selling author of The Alchemist and Adultery, brings to life one of history's most enigmatic women: Mata Hari. The story of her celebrated yet mysterious life as an exotic dancer and courtesan, and her controversial execution as a spy during the First World War, unfolds as a fascinating first-person narrative of self-creation and bravery.

Her only crime was to be an independent woman: "I do not know if the future will remember me, but if it should, may no one ever view me as a victim but as someone who moved forward with courage and paid the price she had to pay."

On the occasion of the centenary of Mata Hari's execution for espionage in 1917, Paulo Coelho reconsiders her life and character in a fictional memoir. In a series of letters written from prison on the eve of her death, Mata Hari reflects on the choices she has made to always pursue her own truth - from her childhood in a small Dutch town to unhappy years as the wife of an alcoholic diplomat in Java to her calculated and self-fashioned rise to celebrity in Paris and across Europe as an exotic dancer and confidante to the most powerful men of the time. Though there was little evidence to incriminate her, Mata Hari was unable to escape persecution and prosecution by French military intelligence, and at the novel's end Coelho re-creates a final letter, written by Mata Hari's lawyer, Edouard Clunet, that offers a captivating view of Europe at war and the fatal price of suspicion.

©2016 Paul Coelho (P)2016 Random House Audio

What listeners say about The Spy

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Strong woman versus the patriarchy

The strong woman wins, of course, by living her life on her terms. The story is told in two voices: first the woman herself and then her male (and only) ally. I found the the woman character and her first-person narrative engaging (and a refutation to anyone who would say that a male novelist should not write as a woman). The historical setting is well rendered as a time of cataclysmic change, dangerous for everyone. Our heroine does not flinch.

2 people found this helpful

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A great book

A wonderful book that I found to be developmental and maturative for a young man coming of age such as myself. I found this book to be highly relatable and generally intelligently written and I further highly recommend this book.

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Excellent Read

Mata Hari as a young woman is trying to escape her Dutch heritage so she marries young and is enticed by the thought of living abroad. When that dream fizzles and reality is more than she wants, she leaves the East and heads to Germany and Paris to build a name for herself as an exotic dancer and a kept woman. She gets sucked into espionage, double spying and eventually a scapegoat when the war hits and it all comes crashing down. Her past and her relationships catch up with her. An excellent book and well narrated.

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  • 10-13-20

Another thought provoking book by Paulo

The book enthrall from the very beginning. The narrators are fabulous and bring the story to life. And Paulo brings an essay on love to challenge us.

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He did it again

He’s done it again, another masterpiece. The spy tells the true life story of Mata Hari whose only crime was being a woman. Chapter four was read with such passion and through the dictation you could feel every emotion that was intended. If you are a fan of Coelho you will not be disappointed.

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The Spy, an excellent telling of Mata Hari's life.

Paulo Coehlo's, The Spy, was a well written account of Mata Hari's rise and fall. Coehlo also sheds light on the possible innocence of Mata Hari as a spy for German during World War 1, which she was executed for. An enjoyable read.

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Not what I thought the story would be.

the story was sad and depressing to hear about a woman having to use her body to get her freedom. But she was never free, she ended up being smited by the same men that desired her. Lets pray that this type of story will soon be historical info instead of fodder for a new screenplay.

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Not what I expect from Paulo Coellho

Any additional comments?

One of my least favorite books by the author and I'm a huge fan of his. Though it was a nice entertaining book, it was not as though provoking as his other works.

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Highly recommended

Great narration. Meticulous detailing of facts and documents and final, just exoneration of a wrongly-accused. Heartbreaking and very timely.

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Loved the Alchemist but this falls short

I just never could get into the main character enough to care about her retelling of her life