Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran

  • Mata Hari's Last Dance (7:19)Title:  Mata Hari’s Last Dance: A Novel
  • Author:  Michelle Moran
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  288
  • Published:  July 2016 – Touchstone
  • Source:  Publisher

About:  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 Indian temples and Parisian theatres to 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.  (publisher)

My take:  When I hear the name Mata Hari an image of an exotic dancer from the early twentieth century comes to mind. Other than that I really didn’t know much about her. I used Google to see what she really looked like and was surprised by how many photographs were taken of her. In Michelle Moran’s hands she becomes a real person who reinvented herself when she was a young woman.

Margaretha Zelle MacLeod survived some devastating disappointments early in life but had the good fortune to meet people later who helped her create her public persona of Mata Hari. Her rags to riches story is quite amazing. Moran’s story fleshed out the years Mata Hari spent in European cities, World War I, and her ultimate demise (an emotional scene, for sure).

I think fans of Michelle Moran and historical fiction will enjoy Mata Hari’s Last Dance. It’s an incredible story and I’m glad I had the chance to learn about this fascinating woman. I appreciated the author’s note at the end that gave clarity to some of the details.