Signed, Mata Hari
In October 1917, Margaretha Zelle, better known as Mata Hari, sits in a prison cell in Paris, accused of being a spy for Germany. As she awaits trial, Mata Hari weaves stories from her life. Shifting time and point of view between the prison cell and her prior life in its many manifestations, Murphy recreates the story of Mata Hari. From her early childhood in the late 19th century Netherlands, to her years in Java as a caring mother, and eventually to her glamorous career as a dancer and courtesan, the episodic and lyrical prose will have readers riveted until Mata Hari’s tragic end by firing squad.
This seductive, poetic tale of a legendary woman, whose exploits are still a matter of historical debate, mesmerizes. Mata Hari’s voice is powerful as she reinvents herself, and while the novel is vague on facts and is more prose poem than historical novel, its intense emotions and insight into her life makes for an intriguing read. Murphy has creatively imagined the life of Mata Hari, and whether she was rightfully executed or not matters little in this powerful portrait of one of the most notorious people of all time.