Memories are full of caprice, where images of things we’ve experienced are still capable of suffocating us through one small detail or insignificant sound.”
The worldwide bestselling author, Paulo Coelho, returns with a new novel titled The Spy. In this novel, Coelho takes its readers on a journey through early 20th century Europe, with a new character in the spotlight.
When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless. Soon she was feted as the most elegant woman in the city. A dancer who shocked and delighted audiences; a confidant and courtesan who bewitched the era’s richest and most powerful men. But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari’s lifestyle brought her under suspicion. Until, in 1917 she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees and accused of espionage. Written as a series of letters, The Spy tells the unforgettable story of a woman who dared to break the conventions of her time, and paid the price.
One of the things I like about The Spy is that it’s written from the perspective of a woman, similar to Coelho’s previous novel Adultery. Coelho manages to take you on a journey, through the eyes of Mata Hari highlighting how men are viewed by women in light of the male mannerisms. Some of the male mannerisms that unknowingly irritate the hell out of women include men and their need to explain everything; and their need to always express their opinions on the state of the economy (I’m guilty of both :P). By writing from the perspective of a woman, Coelho also highlights how patriarchal societies were (and still are) when it came to what professions women were entitled to take up and how they were viewed in society.
Coelho also manages to bring the same sense of wonder with his writing in The Spy. He’s ability to write about a specific story but make it relatable even in the very minute details surely makes him one of the best authors I’ve come across. Like most of his other novels, The Spy is FILLED with quotable quotes (a big win).
Another highlight of The Spy is that it is based on real events. While Coelho’s life remains the primary source of inspiration of his writing, he’s able to portray Mata Hari’s story with such detail that you would swear it was fictional. It’s THAT amazing.
Paulo Coelho has come a long way after having written The Alchemist. With The Spy¸ the reader can expect the same sense of relatability to the main character as Coelho does with so many of his other novels. You’ll walk away from this novel having learned more about European society in the WWI-era, particularly the atmosphere around civil society before the war.
The Spy will definitely add value to any home library offering a light read but a story that will remain with the reader long after finishing the last page.