Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Spy by Paul Coelho

The Spy
Paulo Coelho

RRP $37.00 - Hardback
Available in hardback & ebook
Hamish Hamilton

Having escaped a childhood in a small Dutch town, sexual abuse at boarding school and an alcoholic husband in Java, Mata Hari arrived penniless in Paris. She was quickly dubbed the most elegant woman in the city; courted by Picasso, she met Freud in Vienna and danced at Milan’s La Scala.

A confidante and courtesan to the era’s wealthiest and most powerful men, she shocked and delighted audiences with her dancing.  However, at the height of the First World War, Mata Hari was thrown into prison on accusations of espionage.

Written as a series of letters to her lawyer from Paris’s Saint-Lazare prison, where Mata Hari spent four years before being shot by a firing squad, THE SPY is a dramatic story of courage and discrimination.  Told through Mata's final letter, this novel tells the unforgettable story of a woman who dared to break the conventions of her time, and paid the price. 

Discussing the book of his blog, Paulo Coelho explains: ‘Mata Hari was a dancer who shocked and delighted audiences during the First World War, and she became a confidant to some of the era’s richest and most powerful men. She dared to liberate herself from the moralism and provincial customs of the early twentieth century, but she ultimately paid for it with her life. As she waited for her execution in a Paris prison, one of her last requests was for a pen and some paper to write letters.

Over the past twenty years, MI5 in the UK and Germany and Holland have released their files on Mata Hari, and it provided him with a trove of information as he was researching his novel.
“I ended up with a mountain of documents,” Coelho says, “but also with a question: What did Mata Hari write in those letters? And how was she caught in so many traps, set by both friends and enemies?”

Using first-person narrative, Coelho reimagines Mata Hari’s life through her final letter, which was written the week before her execution. There, from prison, Mata Hari reveals the choices she made in pursuing her own truth — from her childhood in a small Dutch town, to her unhappy years as the wife of an alcoholic diplomat in Java, to her calculated and self-fashioned rise to celebrity in France.

“Mata Hari was one of our first feminists,” Coelho says, “defying male expectations of that time and choosing instead an independent, unconventional life. There are lessons we can draw from her life today, where accusations by the powerful still cost the innocent their lives.”’

For further information please contact: Jennifer Bal

Paulo Coelho’s life remains the primary source of inspiration for his books. He has flirted with death, escaped madness, dallied with drugs, withstood torture, experimented with magic and alchemy, studied philosophy and religion, read voraciously, lost and recovered his faith and experienced the pain and pleasure of love. In searching for his own place in the world, he has discovered answers for the challenges that everyone faces. He believes that, within ourselves, we have the necessary strength to find our own destiny.
His novel The Alchemist has sold more than 65 million copies and has been cited as an inspiration by people as diverse as Malala Yousafzai and Pharrell Williams. Paulo Coelho’s books have sold more than 175 million copies worldwide. He is the writer with the most followers on social media and is the most translated living author in the world.
He has won 115 international prizes and awards, has been a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters since 2002 and in 2007 was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace..

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