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Mata Hari's Last Dance: A Novel Paperback – July 19, 2016
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Praise for Mata Hari's Last Dance:
"MATA HARI'S LAST DANCE is everything historical fiction should be: a transportive tale of a complex figure, brought to life in lush and evocative language, packed with too-good-to-be-true historical details. Michelle Moran's storytelling is as sumptuous and seductive as the subject herself. Like Mata Hari's spellbound audiences, you'll be cheering bravo."—Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of SISI
"[Mata Hari] is a mysterious character, but Moran manages to formulate a realistic heroine....Readers of historical fiction will note the author’s signature attention to detail; however, the flawed Hari makes this engrossing reading." (Library Journal)
"By interweaving the strands of Mata Hari’s multiple reinventions into an evocative tapestry depicting the woman who captured the collective imagination of several nations, the author ensures that questions of her guilt or innocence ultimately take a back seat to her mesmerizing tale. Moran breathes new life into another atrophied legend of a remarkable woman who left an indelible mark upon her time and place in history." (Booklist)
Praise for Michelle Moran:
“I could not put this book down! Sita’s voice as narrator is a strong one, and the time and characters fascinating. Moran’s evocative writing transports the reader from small backcountry villages where women live out their lives in purdah to the exotic kingdom of Jhansi whose women freely walk the streets, and finally to the eye of the hurricane as British authority in Jhansi increases. . . . A riveting and addictive glimpse of that era.” (Historical Novel Review on Rebel Queen)
"This often deeply moving novel focuses on its characters, allowing history to play out as a backdrop to the personal story of a young woman who would risk everything, including her own life, for her people." (Booklist on Rebel Queen)
"Filled with fascinating historical details about a subject that is not often portrayed, the novel looks at both the rights of women and the conflict between the British Empire and India in a fairly unbiased way....Readers who have enjoyed Moran's previous works will not want to miss this." (Library Journal on Rebel Queen (starred review))
"Stunning in form, theme, and plot... Don’t hesitate to purchase this beautifully written gem, which is certain to shoot to the top of the charts, if not start a craze for 'everything Moran.'" (Library Journal, on The Second Empress)
"Moran expertly balances fact and fiction . . . . Intimate and entertaining." (Associated Press, on Madame Tussaud)
"Certain to be a breakout book for Moran, this superbly written and plotted work is a welcome addition to historical fiction collections. The shocking actions and behavior required of Tussaud to survive the revolution make the novel a true page-turner and a perfect reading group choice." (Library Journal (starred review), on Madame Tussaud)
"Dramatic, engrossing, and beautifully written, this is essential reading, and Moran is definitely an author to watch." (Library Journal (starred review), on Cleopatra's Daughter)
About the Author
Michelle Moran is the internationally bestselling author of seven historical novels, including Rebel Queen, which was inspired by her travels throughout India. Her books have have been translated into more than twenty languages. A frequent traveler, Michelle currently resides with her husband and two children in the US. Visit her online at MichelleMoran.com.
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Most of us have a hazy – possibly crazy – notion of this glamorous woman, her name is famous, but to truly pin her down would be a hard task. The book portrays a woman blighted by early traumatic experiences – abandonment by her father, then by her first lover and ultimately by the man she believed to be her one true love.
At an early age she was single-minded enough to find a husband who would take her to Java, one presumes, so that she could see what became of her first love; but after the loss of one child, the marriage soon turned sour – with domestic violence an integral feature – and she left, to pursue a life of dance, glitz and glamour. An army of military lovers in Paris awaits and between performing risqué dances in the Salons and theatres of Paris, Madrid and Berlin, she enjoys the good life and revels in the gifts that rain down on her. She is the material girl of her era. Her performances in Salome, Cleopatra, plus Tristan and Isolde all hold her audiences in thrall. The first half of the book charts the serried ranks of men who end up being seduced and there are many encounters to plough through. The second half sees her negotiating her way through war-riddled Europe to her untimely demise, desperately finding a way to get her daughter Nom back from the clutches of her erstwhile husband Rudolph Macleod. She is “a woman who routinely couples ill-advised liaisons with requests for compensation“… so very true.
It is her penchant for men in uniform that ultimately brings her down. Naive. Disingenuous. A fantasist. Haughty. Manipulator of men. Vindictive (“I take when someone has taken from me“). Yet at times kind. Underneath of course there seems to have been a conflicted woman, emotionally damaged through multiple losses, who saw the world in terms of how it could serve her rather than what she could back in. A narcissist at heart but still a child too, searching, yearning perhaps for a father figure, and delighted by glittering gemstones as her reward for just being her. This woman was truly “an orchid among buttercups” but a damaged flower who struggled to really see her place in the world.
Mata Hari is a woman whose very essence is nebulous, and to attempt to tie down a credible portrait of this capricious character, dovetailing vulnerability with cupidity… that is no mean feat.
She was persecuted because of her alliances and dalliances with men, something that
would never happen to the latter/ She rose out of poverty through her love of dance
and a teacher who taught her to use her beauty to a sensuous advantage. As always
the style is above reproach and here, the author (one of my favorites) makes her
imagery and metaphor reminiscent of Anais Nin's lyrical fiction, no easy feat. A sad
book but compelling. Could not put in down! Bravo.