Friday, July 15, 2016

Mata Hari's Last Dance by Michelle Moran

Standalone
288 p.
Publisher: Touchstone
Published: 7/19/16
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
From the international bestselling author of Rebel Queen and Nefertiti comes a captivating novel about the infamous Mata Hari, exotic dancer, adored courtesan, and, possibly, relentless spy. 
Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers. 
As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer. 
From exotic Indian temples and glamorous Parisian theatres to stark German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.
My thoughts:

History has remembered Mata Hari as a double agent who was irresistible, known for her beauty and grace. However, evidence or lack of it has come to light about how she might have been framed by both Germany and France and this is the version of history given in this book.

It is a short book and in some ways I think it moves things along and in other ways I think it didn't allow me to really connect with Mata Hari as a person. I saw how vulnerable she was in her early years, but most of that was a flashback and I did not grow up with her. You saw her naïveté which is what lead to her execution. The theory ends up being quite plausible and is also the more popular theory to date. You felt sorry for her and I felt more for her daughter who only gets an epilogue in the end. I'm curious to know if perhaps it was told through her daughter's eyes how different the story would have been told?

I give this book 3 stars. It is a very interesting take on a very enigmatic personality that has drawn curiosity since she first became famous. I like this version, but I did wish for more connection to the character. She is still sympathetic and interesting. I recommend the book to those curious about her and the theory on how she was framed. It also makes you curious about her and I did google her while reading it. :D

28 comments:

  1. I like that this is historical fiction and focuses on a heroine who isn't explored nearly enough in literature. Thanks for putting this on my radar, Melissa!(:

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  2. I hope it ends before she dies

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  3. The name sounds familiar, but I know nothing about her legend. This is an interesting take.

    Lovely review, Melissa.

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    1. She is known for seducing men and being a double agent. However, history doesn't quite prove the double agent but does still leave it in question.

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  4. Ooo I've never heard of her but I'm super curious now!

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    1. She is pretty iconic, but not much has really be said about her real life.

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  5. It's frustrating when connection falls short!

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    1. It didn't draw me out of the story though. That is good. :)

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  6. It's an interesting topic there, I haven't read a book about her yet

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  7. Hmm! I was thinking I might fare better with this book than I did with her other books but, reading your review, perhaps not.

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    1. I did like the Rebel Queen! You might try that one.

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  8. Unfortunately, we know that there is no good ending to this, regardless if it is fictionalized or not. It sounds like something I might(?)like if I didn't already know how it ended :)

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    1. So true. However, even her ending had an air of defiance so I was curious.

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  9. This is new to me. But the ending, ugh.

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  10. I'm surprised on how short this book is! I would have thought the author paced Mata Hari's story from her childhood to her demise in the end. Glad you learned a few things in this book, Melissa.

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    1. I didn't know much about her except the general legend. Did make me curious.

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  11. Oooh, interesting! I'd love to read this.

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    1. I'd be curious to know what you would think about it. :)

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  12. The idea of reading a story about Mata Hari is interesting. She is one of the historical characters that I know of, but I don't know a lot about her. I'm glad you enjoyed this book, even if you didn't connect with her as much as you would've liked. Great review.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

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    1. I was in the same position. Even though the connection wasn't as solid as I liked, there was still some, at least.

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