MATA HARI'S LAST DANCE – Michelle Moran
France – 1904 to 1917
She was born Margaretha Zelle in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, but to the world she became known as Mata Hari, supposed spy for the Germans during World War I. Mata Hari tells her story in the first person in this interesting novel of her life.
The only way for Margaretha to get on with her life after a disastrous marriage to a much older man is for her to become a new woman. She changes her name to Mata Hari, telling people that she was born in India and learned to dance her exotic dances there. She is eventually taken under the wing of a Parisian lawyer who manages her events. Mata Hari does not hide the fact that she loves men, and she's far from chaste, but her eventual goal is to obtain enough money and freedom to rescue her daughter from her ex-husband's grasp. Telling tall tales is her forte, and while many may not always believe her, she's exotic looking and acting enough to convince the rich of Paris to hire her for her magical performances.
But the war comes to France, and Mata Hari gets caught up in the danger and excitement. She wants to help France end the war and makes some naïve decisions that lead to disastrous results.
Beautifully written and researched, MATA HARI'S LAST DANCE is a fascinating account of what probably led to Mata Hari's eventual downfall. She was not a person who was easy to like; her fictional account of her life left many wondering, but her true story was nearly as amazing as the life she conjured for herself.