The Spy – Book Review

If you’ve read any book by Paulo Coelho once, it is perfectly understandable that you cannot resist the urge to buy any new release by him. The Spy, although lurks far away from the kind of fictions I have been reading recently, did not escape from my pre-orders.

Title: The Spy
Author: Paulo Coelho
Publisher: Knopf
Date Published: November 22nd 2016
Language: English
Genre: Historical
ISBN: 9781524732066
My Rating: 3

The Spy is a real story.

Although Paulo Coelho has explained in the end that he had to insert several dramatic elements into the context, the book altogether is based on a real story. It explains the story of Mata Hari, a woman who dared to defy convention and paid the ultimate price.

Mata Hari was penniless when she arrived in Paris, but her dancing skills enchanted the audiences. She bewitched the richest and most powerful men of that era through her art. Pretty soon, she became one of the most celebrated woman of the city.

However, her popularity and lifestyle gave birth to suspicion. In 1917, when the country was at war, she was arrested and accused of espionage.

As you read, Mata Hari’s persona grows on you.

The Spy gives way to curiosity. As you read the initial few pages, you grow fond of the character Mata Hari. She makes bold decisions and set on a path that was not considered very high, but she gains her independent self. As she releases her from the abusive clutches of her husband, you feel great. This is where Paulo Coelho always shine for me. It’s funny that his stories are always about protagonists searching for liberty, but he never fails to impress.

For almost half of the book, you feel engrossed, but the momentum is lost somewhere after that. It becomes dull in comparison because the writing appears laced with historical facts and emotions fall way behind.

Paulo Coelho has done his research.

Mata Hari’s character in The Spy is well crafted without deviating too much from the actual facts. However, the inclusion of core facts makes the poetic flair of Coelho suffer. What appeared to be strength of the book – Mata Hari, is left unexplored in the second half of the book. Instead of explaining the sentiments, the perception and actions of her, we are bombarded with events and actual happenings.

It is a good book, but fades a bit when compared to the caliber of the Author.

I enjoyed reading The Spy. It was a good enlightening book with some really good quotes that I’ll try to remember. However, if you have read books like The Alchemist and Veronica Decides to Die, you will be left wanting for more. After the climax of The Spy, Coelho has explained how he had to tamper with the actual story to make the book more readable and dramatic, which I really don’t mind. Just a heads up for those deciding to pick the book.

Some Quotes from The Spy

Everything in this world has two sides. People who were abandoned by the cruel god called love are also culpable, because they look into the past and wonder why they made so many plans for the future. But if they searched their memories even more, they would remember the day the seed was planted and how they tended it, fertilized it and let it grow until it became a tree that could never be uprooted.

Know what you want and try to go beyond your own expectations. Improve your dancing, practice a lot, and set a very high goal, one that will be difficult to achieve. Because that is an artist’s mission: to go beyond one’s limits. An artist who desires very little and achieves it has failed in life.

These seeds will always be tulips, even if at the moment you cannot tell them apart from other flowers. They will never turn into roses or sunflowers, no matter how much they might desire to. And if they try to deny their own existence, they will live life bitter and die.

When we don’t know where life is taking us, we are never lost.

Buy The Spy



Anmol Rawat

Anmol Rawat is a writer, which, considering where you are reading this, makes perfect sense. His debut solo book ‘ABCs of Horror’ is a collection of 26 terrifying standalone tales. He thinks Game of Thrones and Supernatural are the best TV series ever made and devours on Nicholas Sparks, Dan Brown, Stephen King & John Green. He would kill for a good cup of Cappuccino, as should all right thinking people.

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    • If you are going to start somewhere, I would suggest you to begin with Veronica Decides to Die or The Alchemist. The author’s true potential can be acknowledged in both of the mentioned books.

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