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The Spy by Paulo Coelho – 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.
HER ONLY CRIME WAS TO BE AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN
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 richest and most powerful men.
But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari’s lifestyle brought her under suspicion. In 1917, she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees, and accused of espionage.
Told in Mata Hari’s voice through her final letter, The Spy is the unforgettable story of a woman who dared to defy convention and who paid the ultimate price. Download Free PDF Books Here
Table of Contents
Contents – The Spy by Paulo Coelho
Also by Paulo Coelho
Author’s Note and Acknowledgments
A Note About the Author
Reading Group Guide
Prologue – The Spy by Paulo Coelho
Shortly before 5 a.m., a party of eighteen men—most of them officers of the French army—climbed to the second floor of Saint-Lazare, the women’s prison in Paris. Guided by a warder carrying a torch to light the lamps, they stopped in front of cell 12. Nuns were charged with looking after the prison. Sister Leonide opened the door and asked that everyone wait outside as she entered the cell, struck a match against the wall, and lit the lamp inside. Then she called one of the other sisters to help. With great affection and care, Sister Leonide draped her arm around the sleeping body. The Spy by Paulo Coelho
The woman struggled to waken, as though disinterested in anything. According to the nun’s statement, when she finally awoke, it was as though she emerged from a peaceful slumber. She remained serene when she learned her appeal for clemency, made days earlier to the president of the republic, had been denied. It was impossible to decipher if she felt sadness or a sense of relief that everything was coming to an end. On Sister Leonide’s signal, Father Arbaux entered her cell along with Captain Bouchardon and her lawyer, Maître Clunet. The prisoner handed her lawyer the long letter that she had spent the previous week writing, as well as two manila envelopes containing news clippings. She drew on black stockings, which seemed grotesque under the circumstances, and stepped into a pair of high-heeled shoes adorned with silk laces. The Spy by Paulo Coelho
As she rose from the bed, she reached for the hook in the corner of her cell, where a floor-length fur coat hung, its sleeves and collar trimmed with the fur of another animal, possibly fox. She slipped it over the heavy silk kimono in which she had slept. Her black hair was disheveled. She brushed it carefully, then secured it at the nape of her neck. She perched a felt hat on top of her head and tied it under her chin with a silk ribbon, so the wind would not blow it out of place when she stood in the clearing where she was to be led. Slowly, she bent down to take a pair of black leather gloves. Then, nonchalantly, she turned to the newcomers and said in a calm voice: “I am ready.” Everyone departed the Saint-Lazare prison cell and headed toward the automobile that waited, its engine running, to take them to the firing squad. The car sped through the streets of the sleeping city on its way to the Caserne de Vincennes barracks. The Spy by Paulo Coelho
A fort had stood there once, before being destroyed by the Germans in 1870. Twenty minutes later, the automobile stopped and its party descended. Mata Hari was the last to exit. The soldiers were already lined up for the execution. Twelve Zouaves formed the firing squad. At the end of the group stood an officer, his sword drawn. Flanked by two nuns, Father Arbaux spoke with the condemned woman until a French lieutenant approached and held out a white cloth to one of the sisters, saying: “Blindfold her eyes, please.” “Must I wear that?” asked Mata Hari, as she looked at the cloth. Maître Clunet turned to the lieutenant questioningly. “If Madame prefers not to, it is not mandatory,” replied the lieutenant. Mata Hari was neither bound nor blindfolded; she stood, gazing steadfastly at her executioners, as the priest, the nuns, and her lawyer stepped away. The commander of the firing squad, who had been watching his men attentively to prevent them from examining their rifles—it is customary to always put a blank cartridge in one, so that everyone can claim not to have fired the deadly shot—seemed to relax. Soon the business would be over. “Ready!” The twelve men took a rigid stance and placed their rifles at their shoulders. Mata Hari did not move a muscle. The officer stood where all the soldiers could see him and raised his sword. The Spy by Paulo Coelho
“Aim!” The woman before them remained impassive, showing no fear. The officer’s sword dropped, slicing through the air in an arc. “Fire!” The sun, now rising on the horizon, illuminated the flames and small puffs of smoke issuing from the rifles as a flurry of gunfire rang out with a bang. Immediately after this, the soldiers returned their rifles to the ground in a rhythmic motion. For a fraction of a second, Mata Hari remained upright. She did not die the way you see in moving pictures after people are shot. She did not plunge forward or backward, and she did not throw her arms up or to the side. She collapsed onto herself, her head still up, her eyes still open. One of the soldiers fainted. Then her knees buckled and her body fell to the right, legs doubled up beneath the fur coat. And there she lay, motionless, with her face turned toward the heavens. A third officer drew his revolver from a holster strapped to his chest and, accompanied by a lieutenant, walked toward the motionless body. Bending over, he placed the muzzle of the revolver against the spy’s temple, taking care not to touch her skin. Then he pulled the trigger, and the bullet tore through her brain. He turned to all who were present and said in a solemn voice: “Mata Hari is dead.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
Paulo Coelho’s books have been translated into 80 languages and have sold more than 225 million copies in more than 170 countries. His 1988 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.
He is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and has received the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur. In 2007, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
Connect with the author:
Twitter: @paulocoelhoSEE LESS
PRAISE – The Spy by Paulo Coelho
Praise for Paulo Coelho and The Spy
“[The Spy is a] masterful new novel.” –Bookpage
“Coelho, whose books have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, has taken the Mata Hara story and fashioned it into a short dynamo of a novel.” —Los Angeles Times
“A striking novel. . . . By the end, readers will believe they’ve read [Mata Hari’s] actual letters.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“Coelho has created a portrait of an anachronistic woman, who was destroyed by her times and became a legend.” —Paste Magazine
“A novelist who writes in a universal language.” —The New York Times
“Spiritualists and wanderlusts will eagerly devour . . . [Coelho’s] search for all things meaningful.” —The Washington PostSEE LESS