A Novel Based on the Life of Mata Hari"" begins and ends when Margaretha eerturida Zelle Macleod faces a firing squad without revealing the identity of her over-confederate. Mrs. Wertenbaker is by no means so reticent as she recreates her life through her own last minute memories and the more rueful recall of some of the men she knew. No longer the enigmatic odalisque, Geerschy, of the supple awny body, the ""full lipped misleading mouth"", the sooty eyes and the eyelashes like ""waterlogged ferns"" flaunts her femininity from page to page. Indeed, the prose is as pulpy as a persimmon. Inscrutable she's not-- she's childish, coquettish, cocottish, a dancer of hypnotic charm, a chronic but convincing liar. While there are only three knowns in her life (""She was born- she danced- she died"") there are many ignis fatui to pursue: her attempted seduction as a girl by an importunate school principal; her young marriage to Rudy who took her to the Orient; the death of her boy (poison) and her revenge (murder?); her return to Europe under the patronage of Papa Louis who named her, managed her, eventually betrayed her; her love for Baron van Weel who raped her first, used her later; etc., etc. Somehow, the legend will live longer than the book although there will be many women to like it; it is romantically readable, assertively intimate and ffulgently female.