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The Spy

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  34,166 ratings  ·  3,376 reviews
In his new novel, Paulo Coelho, best-selling author of The Alchemist and Adultery, brings to life one of history's most enigmatic women: Mata Hari.


When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless. Within months she was the most celebrated woman in the city.

As a dancer, she shocked and delighted audiences; as a courtesan, sh
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published November 22nd 2016 by Knopf
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Aijazz Its a historical fiction, to be precise. Even though most of the history handed down to us is also prejudicial but the authors do not say so; Paulo ad…moreIts a historical fiction, to be precise. Even though most of the history handed down to us is also prejudicial but the authors do not say so; Paulo admits it to be a real life story of Mata Hari garnished with his magical way of writing(less)
Ada Angharad In short: Because C is a lousy writer, but very good for FB motivational quotations, All his work is blatantly derivative -thinking about the "Alchemi…moreIn short: Because C is a lousy writer, but very good for FB motivational quotations, All his work is blatantly derivative -thinking about the "Alchemist"-and because money is good. (less)

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Average rating 3.35  · 
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 ·  34,166 ratings  ·  3,376 reviews

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Tonstant Weader
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical-novel
Mata Hari really deserves better than she has been getting in the literary department. First there was Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran that made her inexplicably obtuse and naive considering her accomplishments. Now Paulo Coelho gives us The Spy which seems to be nothing more than a contrivance for some New Age aphorisms. He sees her as someone who was an emancipated woman, that freedom was her crime, but ignores the reality that made her “free”.

The real Mata Hari is more interesting. M
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
“I am a woman who was born at the wrong time and nothing can be done to fix this. I don’t know if the future will remember me, but if it does, may it never see me as a victim, but as someone who moved forward with courage, fearlessly paying the price she had to pay.”

I picked this one up randomly at the library at the very last second, after spending over half an hour looking for the perfect read. And I’m pleased to say that Paulo Coelho impressed me and then some.

The Spy has brilliant starting
Ahmad Sharabiani
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A Espiã = The Spy, Paulo Coelho

Margaretha Geertruida "Margreet" MacLeod (7 August 1876 – 15 October 1917), better known by the stage name Mata Hari, was a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was convicted of being a spy for Germany during World War I and executed by firing squad in France.

When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless. Within months she was the most celebrated woman in the city. As a dancer, she shocked and delighted audiences; as a courtesan, she bewitched the era’s riche
Heidi The Reader
The Spy is the story of Mata Hari, told first in her voice and then from the point of view of one of her male admirers.

Paulo Coelho isn't at his best in this novel.

He prefers and excels at metaphorical stories. For example, in this tale, Coelho has Mata Hari comparing herself to the nightingale that impaled itself on a thorn to grow a bright red rose for a young man in love.

I get what he was reaching for- but I think this tale would have been told better through details rather than metaphors.

Kevin Kuhn
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Believe it or not, I might be one of the few people on the planet who have not yet read “The Alchemist”. It is certainly on my list, and I’ve heard many people list it as their favorite book and has changed their life. Due to this and a little knowledge of Mata Hari (just recalling she was an exotic dancer found to be a spy during World War I), when I saw “The Spy” at the bookstore, I picked it up. Besides the cover is captivating, with an old black and white head shot of Mata Hari overlaid on a ...more

Mata Hari...was she a spy or wasn't she? Did she serve as a double agent for Germany and France throughout World War I or did a malicious allegation with zero evidence destroy her life? In this re-imagining based on nonfiction accounts, author Paulo Coelho says no. Her only crime was her choice to be an independent woman, exposing the world to feminism for the very first time, and for that she lost her life by firing squad.

As Mata Hari waited for execution, one of her last requests was for a pe
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
This book reminds me that I shouldn't read historical fiction novels that are based on specific people, rather than a general time period. I'm too critical, and no doubt I expect too much from authors who are brave enough to take on the daunting task of getting inside another person's mind.

I'm of the belief that if you dare to feel that you have the insight into someone else's inner workings and what makes them tick, you better make damn sure that your instinct of human nature is sharp and on po
“Death is nothing, nor life either, for that matter. To die, to sleep, to pass into nothingness, what does it matter? Everything is an illusion.”

----Mata Hari

Paulo Coelho, the international bestselling author, pens a gripping and part fictional tale on the life of a legendary dancer cum falsely accused as a spy, Mata Hari in his new novel, The Spy that opens with the execution of this exotic and talented dancer by the French, but then the author spins a riveting autobiographical account of th
Reading_ Tamishly
Apr 27, 2021 rated it it was ok
The book starts quite dramatically.

Liked the writing.
Liked the short chapters.
And I am glad the book is short. Because it's painful and traumatizing to read.

Trigger warnings for sexual assault, sexist remarks and too many graphic scenes.

As much as this story is trying to prove what the character does or say is right and whatever she had done with reasons known to her, I really do not want to support them and I find these reasons whatsoever really problematic.

The character was trying to escape a
Jill McGill
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it

Margaretha Zelle, aka Mata Hari, was a famous "exotic" dancer who shocked and dazzled audiences; as a prostitute, she entertained the most richest and powerful men.

But unfortunately this lifestyle also brought her under suspicion. In 1917, Mata Hari was arrested in Paris, and accused of espionage. She then was put on trial and executed for treason, and in all likelihood was innocent.

Mata Hari would be considered a feminist hero in today's world, a wo
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Finally a solid read! This one was short enough where I started this morning and was able to finish it this afternoon. Fascinating story of Mata Hari. Basically, the woman was executed for being considered a double agent but on such flimsy evidence that her execution was seemingly to save the asses and protect the reputation of the powerful men she slept with. A woman that once again rang that tired old bell "I was born at the wrong time." When will it ever be the right time for women to be born ...more
I was disappointed in this book considering that the Brazilian author is Paulo Coelho, which is why I wanted to read it. My knowledge of the dancer and famous spy, Mati Hari, is still scarce after reading the book. I felt that the author "phoned it in" and it felt superficial and thin. Mati Hari was a Dutch exotic dancer and mistress to powerful men (both French and German) who was convicted of being a spy for the Germans in World War 1. She was found guilty and shot to death by a firing squad ...more
Fiona MacDonald
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
Utterly heartbreaking story. Wonderfully told (Paulo Coelho is a master of the written word) and just so incredibly sad to read. Mata Hari's voice speaks through the pages eloquently, passionately and sensually. I really enjoyed this... no, in fact I loved it. I highly, HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who is interested in Mata Hari's life. ...more
Erin Clemence
This review is for the audio version of “The Spy” written by Paulo Coelho, narrated by Hillary Huber and Paul Boehmer, and published by Random House Audio.

I continue to read Paulo Coelho books thinking I’ll like them. I choose them because they are so small and therefore I assume they will be easy to read. I also choose them because I hear nothing but good things about Mr. Coelho, especially about how his novels are poignant, well-loved and world-renowned. This exact trap suckered me in w
Louise Wilson
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mata Hari was penniless when she arrived in Paris. Soon she is one of the most elegant women in the city.

Paranoia consumed a country at war and Mata Hari's lifestyle comes under suspicion. in 1917 she was arrested and accused of espionage.

The book is told from Mata Hari's final letter. A woman who dared to break the conventions of her time and paid the price for it. Even facing the firing squad she never lost her dignity.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Random House UK, Cornerstone and the autho
Kelsie O'Driscoll
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After picking up this book, I did some research on Mata Hari before reading the book. Obviously, the book cannot compare to the events that transpired in her life, but I believe Paulo Coelho gave this woman a voice that was condemned by a rigorous society. You can immediately tell that this is a work by Coelho because of his use of metaphors and prose, but it is a delightful read that I, personally, needed at the moment. Instead of picking up a self-help book (no shame in that, I do too!), I hig ...more
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016-reads
This was a sort of out of left field read for me, as I haven't really enjoyed either of the Paulo Coelho books I've read before (I did not enjoy what I perceived to be the faux mysticism/preachy fable of The Alchemist, and though I found Eleven Minutes more entertaining, it was also repetitive and wearying to read for me). But I was able to get this on edelweiss for free, and figured I'd take a look as Mata Hari was a historical figure I knew little about other than the broadest ideas: sensual d ...more
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing

My goal for 2017: Read all of his books.
Raghdaa Morad
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
2.5 ⭐️ this book was a big disappointment I think i had enough of Coelho writings.
”The crimes I did commit, I escaped, the greatest of which was being an emancipated and independent women in a world ruled by men.”

***This book review is dedicated to my hurricane ass-kicking friend Emer, whose love for Paulo Coelho knows no bounds and sent Hurricane Ophelia running like a banshee.***
 photo 49988c39c0975018a7e72e5a1bfef19f_zpsmjhn9dej.gif

Synopsis: Having spent all of his time saving Hawkins, Indiana, Steve Harrington completely forgot to write his history report about Mata Hari due the next week and turns in this sorry excus
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
With this quick evening read, I acquaint myself with Paulo Coelho.

Coelho being one of the most popular authors alive and his books selling in millions, I was a bit skeptical while approaching this book. But all the skepticism evaporated as soon as I began reading the first chapter. All popular books needn't necessarily be bad! Lesson learnt.

Clear prose with interwoven philosophies dictates the life of Mata Hari - who turns out not to be a spy at all but a rather free-spirited woman born a cent
May 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Review to come 😊
“The greatest crime i committed was being an emancipated and independent woman in a world ruled by men .”

Mata Hari... traitorous spy, or a victim of male bias ? In this summarized portrayal of this enigmatic woman, we follow the life of Margaretha Zelle an exotic dancer accused of espionage for Germany during World War I. Altough I didn't enjoy this as much as the Alchemist, for me it was a little dry and disjointed. However I still tought it was an enjoyable and worth it read.
Bree Hill
Feb 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was INCREDIBLE. My only con was that at certain moments things will get mentioned and you are left with unanswered questions. The author only tells you so much but you get so invested in what is going on you don't want to have to fill in the blanks! Other than that I loved it. There are less than ten pages in this 180ish book that I DIDNT highlight something on.
So many beautifully written passages.
Md. Al Fidah
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
the benefit of translation, one day is enough to finish the whole book :)
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. So, sad too. The execution by firing squad in 1917 I think. She was used by powerful men and that was part of the cause why she was executed.
May 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Flowers teach us that nothing is permanent: not their beauty, not even the fact that they will inevitably wilt, because they will still give new seeds.
Remember this when you feel joy, pain, or sadness.
Everything passes, grows old, dies, and is reborn.

Mata Hari(Margaretha Zelle) is known to the world for her sensuality, brevity and beauty.Accused of acting as a double agent during WW1,Mata Hari was executed.Many people still believe that she was used as a scapegoat and she was innocent.The author
Upon hearing the name Mata Hari the first thing that comes to mind is the Greta Garbo character in the 1931 movie of the same name. Mata Hari - exotic dancer, courtesan, cunning woman who used her feminine wiles to seduce powerful men and obtain secrets for the enemy. But was she really a spy for the Germans? In Paulo Coehlo’s latest novel, The Spy, Mata Hari is given much better treatment. Some reviews have even deemed it hagiographic. Gone is the villain seductress and in her place is a libera ...more
Peter Monn
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Such a great read! Check out my full review on my booktube channel at ...more
Chris Dietzel
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this, as I enjoy everything Coelho writes, but I wasn't drawn in as much as I was with some of his other books. For me, Coelho is at his best when the entire story is a fable that teaches about the hidden paths in life (The Alchemist, The Zahir). This one had a little bit of that but was much more focused on historical fiction. It was neat to see the author approach that genre, though. ...more
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[Question] Remembering Obscure Childhood Books 1 8 Mar 11, 2020 03:18AM  
Play Book Tag: The Spy by Paulo Coelho 2 21 May 05, 2019 06:25AM  
Play Book Tag: The Spy by Paulo Coelho, 3 stars 5 37 Jan 16, 2017 10:04PM  
Play Book Tag: The Spy - 3 Stars 2 14 Jan 13, 2017 12:19PM  
Around the Year i...: The Spy, by Paulo Coelho 1 33 Nov 16, 2016 04:24PM  

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The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO was born in 1947 in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Before dedicating his life completely to literature, he worked as theatre director and actor, lyricist and journalist. In 1986, PAULO COELHO did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage. In the following year, COELHO published The Alchemist. Slow in ...more

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