Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran

July 20, 2016 Whitney Review 1 Comment

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle MoranMata Hari's Last Dance by Michelle Moran
Published by Touchstone on July 19th 2016
Pages: 288
Source: Netgalley

From the international bestselling author of Rebel Queen and Nefertiti comes a captivating novel about the infamous Mata Hari, exotic dancer, adored courtesan, and, possibly, relentless spy.

Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.

As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.

From exotic Indian temples and glamorous Parisian theatres to stark German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.

First Impressions

My knowledge of Mara Hari extended to her profession as an exotic dancer. It seemed a bit one-dimensional at first.  Although, Michelle Moran always excels at expanding the lives of historical figures.  Thus plowed right in, preparing myself for Fantine’s “I dreamed a dream”.

Impressions While Reading

I need not have worried. Margaretha Zelle was so much more than a scantily clad girl and the author showcased that in vivid colors. I felt as if I were in the audience during her performances and with striking descriptions could almost feel Mata Hari’s furs and the vibration of a gun firing.

I liked how Margaretha Zelle’s life pre-courtesan was told in flashback vignettes giving a fuller picture of our leading lady. I thought it rounded the book out nicely all the while astounded by the tragedy contained in one short life.

Final Impressions

Mata Hari’s Last Dance was a quick read. While it was engrossing, I felt the last half of the novel was rushed and was over too soon. Mata Hari’s Last Dance was much too short and felt a bit condensed.

For me, the mark of a good historical fiction novel is one that makes me want to “investigate” the subject matter further after closing the cover. Michelle Moran once again earns that seal as the fascinating figure of Mata Hari led me to Google and Wikipedia more than once. The Last Dance of Mata Hari is an intoxicating novel breathing life into a time of beauty and turmoil.


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