Published on November 22nd 2016, the Paulo Coelho book “The Spy” tells the story of Mata Hari. Coelho tries to fit history into his vision of her tale in this book, but the emotional power of the book leads the story to questioning Mata Hari’s guilt.
Mata Hari was the stage name of Margaretha Geertruida Zelle who was born in Leeuwarden, Netherlands on August 7th, 1876. In the book, she writes a letter from prison to her lawyer (and lover at the time of the trial), while awaiting her sentence. She tells the stories of her life: being raped as a teenager, an abusive husband, escaping to Paris, her becoming Mata Hari, up to her sitting in the very same prison cell from where she is writing. It is the story of a woman who tried to defy convention and who paid the ultimate price.
While no one will ever know if Mata Hari was indeed guilty, even though there was never any real evidence against, this strong, independent woman, knew what she wanted, needed and how to get it. Mata Hari is a self-made woman who created her own legend that lives on to this day.
Mata Hari was executed on October 15th, 1917. She refused to be blindfolded or tied to the stake. She blew kisses at the firing squad. She was just 41.