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Signed, Mata Hari: A Novel Hardcover – November 14, 2007


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Signed, Mata Hari: A Novel + My Name Is Mata Hari + Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (November 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031611264X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316112642
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,096,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In life, at least before the espionage charges, it was Mata Hari's body that made her mesmerizing; in this alluring novel, it is her hypnotic voice. As softly poetic as it is insistent, it entices the reader from the first lines to give Mata Hari what she always craved: not the secrets that are the currency of a spy, but the rapt attention that is oxygen to a performer. Shifting time and perspective, the tale moves among Mata Hari's early childhood in the late 19th-century Netherlands, her years in Java as a caring young mother married to a brutal military man, her glamorous but desperate career as a famed dancer and courtesan and her bleak existence in a Paris prison after her arrest as a spy for Germany during WWI. Murphy (Here They Come) sticks with the true ending to her subject's story, which was death by firing squad, and what makes the novel an unlikely achievement is how Murphy nurtures, before the shots are fired, a potent skepticism about the guilt of a woman whose name even today is synonymous with treachery. In its subdued way, this novel is an eloquent cri de coeur and a belated witness for the defense. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Yannick Murphy’s novel certainly seduced reviewers, but such seduction may have derived from the author’s literary dance rather than from readers’ inherent interest in the subject. Critics admired Murphy’s masterful descriptions, shifts in perspectives, and attention to details alternately selected and invented from the real Margaretha Zelle’s life. The result is a poetic novel that will draw in even those who never thought they would enjoy reading about exotic European espionage. (The case documents will be unsealed in 2017, then revealing whether or not Mata Hari was a spy.) The only consistent criticism of the book was that some of the sex scenes seem more mythological than real—but then again, this is Mata Hari.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Customer Reviews

I am enjoying the book, Signed Mata Hari.
Jen
In elegant, graceful prose, Ms. Murphy tells us the ambiguous story of this complicated, illusive woman with compassion and radiant intelligence.
MOVIE WATCHER
I found it sort of hard to follow sometimes and was slightly clueless about some of the terms used.
Armchair Interviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Debra Smouse on November 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It's only a short time before her execution and we are in her prison cell. We are in Paris and the year is 1917. We are with Margaretha Zelle, aka, Mata Hari.

In this richly woven tale, Yannik Murphy mixes the facts of Mata Hari's life with nuggets of fiction to share a richly woven tale alternating between Mata Hari in prison, telling stories to her captors to buy back her life within the story of her life. Growing up mostly alone and abandoned and then finding herself in a loveless marriage, she shows that she is a survivor. Margaretha finds her comfort during her time in Java, but also suffers her greatest loss. She then reinvents herself and becomes the dancer, Mata Hari, dressing in veils and being admired by the elite of Europe.

Was Mata Hari a spy or was she simply a delusional woman longing for attention?

I devoured Signed, Mata Hari. I was left wanting to know even more...wondering where the facts ended and the fiction began. The writing was authentic and it seemed as if I were reading an autobiography. It's a book that will stay on my bookshelf to share with friends, and for the occasional re-read.

Signed, Mata Hari is available November 14, 2007

Deb Smouse - Editor in Chief - AllThingsGirl.Com
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By MOVIE WATCHER on May 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully rendered portrait of the life of the woman who called herself Mata Hari, undoubtedly one of the most famous but one of the least known about women in modern history. Her name appears in songs and movie titles. She was even the subject of a failed Broadway musical yet we really know very little about her. In elegant, graceful prose, Ms. Murphy tells us the ambiguous story of this complicated, illusive woman with compassion and radiant intelligence. The approach is kalaidoscopic. The author moves effortlessly from being the first person voice of her cental character to a third person observer, perhaps the author herself. From Mata Hari's tragic marriage right up to the final moment in front of a firing squad, there is never a false note or a misplaced moment. The result is a moving, delicate and ultimately very personal work and one that I very much admired.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JCReads on May 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I always check Amazon reviews before suggesting a book for my book groups. This book received 4.5 stars. I was expecting a wonderful tale about a fascinating woman and have to say that I was truly disappointed. For me, this book fell flat and I would give this novel only 1 star.

I did not like the author's writing style and found most of the prose rather simple. The story goes back and forth between Mata Hari's final days in jail to her earlier years as a daughter, wife, mother, prostitute and "spy". The author presented a picture of a tragic woman. Yet, I did not find that I liked or empathized with the character.

It will be interesting to see what my friends think of this book at our discussion this evening. I have already heard one positive and one negative review. I know how I will vote!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jen on November 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am enjoying the book, Signed Mata Hari. I find the character descriptions to be so in-depth and fascinating, that its hard to put the book down. Always an enjoyable read, Yannick Murphy shares a different side to her characters, whether they be fiction or nonfiction. The reader joins the writer on an adventure back and forth through time and has a new journey in each chapter.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on November 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Reviewed by Ginger McBride

Margaretha learned the skill of disconnecting at an early age; a skill that would serve her well in her short, difficult life. After her fourteenth birthday, her father left her and her mother. Not long after, her mother died. Margaretha was sent to live with her godfather, an arrangement that didn't last long because he could not support her. He quickly sent her to live and teach at a school. There Margaretha learned little about teaching and children, but much pleasing about men. At seventeen, she was sent to live with her uncle, ending the first of her many love affairs. Through a newspaper advertisement, Margaretha found what she hoped would be the answer to her dreary life. Captain Rudolph MacLeod, an Indies Army captain, was seeking a wife.

Soon Margaretha discovered that MacLeod was not the perfect husband. He often came home after heavily drinking and sleeping with other women, only to force himself on his wife. And despite his continued adulterous behavior, was a jealous and controlling when others showed interest in her. Soon after her son was born, Captain MacLeod was sent back to Indonesia, where he continued with his philandering ways. Margaretha changes her name to Mata Hari, Javaneyse for "sunrise."

Since her husband continues to have many women, when both of their children are poisoned, killing one, Margaretha blames him. They move to a new area, but the situation does not improve. After years of unhappiness, infidelity and fighting, Mata Hari, her husband and child move in with his sister. Things continue to go down hill and eventually, Captain MacLeod leaves his sister's house with his daughter and Mata Hari is left to fend for herself.
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