Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yannick Murphy's Signed, Mata Hari


Signed, Mata Hari by Yannick Murphy
This historical novel delves into the mind of a much maligned historical figure, Mata Hari.  Yanick’s Mata Hari is an extremely sympathethic woman who danced and spied in order to have the means to fight for custody of her child, Non.  While it’s hard to believe that she was entirely blameless, it is possible that she was entrapped by the Germans to look like agent H21, as she claimed.  Yannick’s Mata Hari is completely different from the film version.  To date, two films have been made about Mata Hari.
What I liked best about this novel was the way in which Yannick experiments with point of view so that we see Mata Hari through three points of view – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  In the first person point of view, Mata Hari constantly repeats the mantra, “I have walked across the sea” because she walked to Ameland island at low tide as a child.  She loves Java, where her cruel husband is stationed for a time, and seems most at home there.  In the 2nd person point of view, she ironically advises readers how to become a spy.  In the 3rd person point of view, we see her in her final days in prison where she befriends a nun.