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Signed, Mata Hari: A Novel Hardcover – November 14, 2007
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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.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Yannick Murphys novel certainly seduced reviewers, but such seduction may have derived from the authors literary dance rather than from readers inherent interest in the subject. Critics admired Murphys masterful descriptions, shifts in perspectives, and attention to details alternately selected and invented from the real Margaretha Zelles 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 realbut then again, this is Mata Hari.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
This was an unfortunate woman, but it often seems as if she just goes with the flow... no moral compass. Finally, it all catches up with her. Truly sad.
This was a quick, easy read and, while the writing had a strong poignant quality, I did not find enough depth to satisfy me. The story was told in flashback, jumping between Mata Hari in prison and Margaretha growing up. We are presented with a picture Margaretha : an abandoned girl, a young woman in a loveless marriage, an ingenue in the making BUT I never felt that the effort was made to present a picture of Mata Hari : exotic dancer, performer, courtesan, spy. That part of her life lacked vivacity and colour and she seemed always to be presented as rather pathetic and a bit of a bumpkin.
I love The Call by Yannick Murphy ... and thoroughly recommend it. It was the reason I went in search of other works by her.
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