Book Reviews

The Spy by Paulo Coelho – Book Review

The Spy – Book Review

  • Author: Paulo Coelho
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Page Length: 208

BLURB as on Goodreads

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.


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 1917, she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees, and accused of espionage.

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

Book Review (1)

When we don’t know where life is taking us, we are never lost.

A woman who chooses to explore her feminity and desires to build her life on the strong foundation of freedom has to pay the ultimate price for it. In a society which exists under the tutelage of men, it is far more difficult for a woman to thrive successfully than we would imagine.

Mata Hari represents the voice of a bold woman who is convicted of acting as a double agent. This false accusation of espionage put on her brings an end to the life of a diva. She faced severe emotional and sexual abuse. She fled to Paris, leaving behind her husband and daughter, with no money but a brimming desire to be free. She danced on stage and put up shows displaying her nudity as an art applauded by the French. She slept with influential men, had sex for pleasure, and loved France so much more than Holland, her native place. The war between Germany and France brought her fall prey to people who treated her as a scapegoat to get their job done. She was a woman who saw the last days of her life in the dungeon, gave up on friends and the idea of love, and found herself suffering tremendously to death.

The Spy has been divided into 3 parts – two belong to Mata Hari’s voice and the third one voices her lawyer whom she accuses of fighting her case half-heartedly. Paulo has put together the bits of Mata Hari’s life as she writes her last letter to her lawyer chronicling her life events. With simple writing, the reader could traverse Mata Hari’s journey as she details her life. I found her spirit so strong and inspiring. She refused to submit instead she chose to rebel and this act of defiance costs her heavy.

Though the book was an engaging account of love, feminism, betrayal, treachery, war, there were a few loopholes which bugged me. I found the pace of the narrative non-uniform. At some points, it rushed while at others, it was sluggish. I found no description of Mata Hari‘s daughter which was a bit disappointing. The journey of the woman to get trapped in false charge of espionage is presented well but the war has not been elaborated. Some events left me puzzled. Had these issues been worked upon, the book would have stood as an amazing account of a feminist and brave woman.

MY RATING: 3.5/ 5


8 thoughts on “The Spy by Paulo Coelho – Book Review

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