The Red Dancer

Richard Skinner
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ISBN 9780571209347 Format Paperback
Published 05/08/2002 Length 240 pages

About Book

The Red Dancer opens in 1895 when, as a young woman in Amsterdam, Margaretha Zelle answers a lonely-hearts advertisement placed by a soldier twice her age in a local newspaper. But her marriage to Captain McLeod of the Dutch army ends in tragedy and acrimony and she leaves their posting in Indonesia. Heading for Paris, she adopts the stage name Mata Hari - 'Eye of the Morning' - and reinvents herself as an exotic dancer. Mata Hari's fame soon spreads throughout the cabarets and theatres of Europe and, as the major powers lurch towards inevitable conflict, she begins to attract the attention of numerous admirers - many of whom are officers, all too keen to share their secrets with a woman of notorious intrigue and allure.

Set against the dramatically imagined backdrop of pre-War Europe, Richard Skinner's novel weaves interlinking chapters of fiction and non-fiction to conjure up the life, loves and tragic end of a woman who continues to fascinate almost a century on from her death.

  • About Richard Skinner

    Richard Skinner is a novelist, poet and critic. His most recent book, The Mirror, was described as ‘beautifully written . . . immersive . . . captivating’ by the Guardian. As Director of the Fiction Programme at Faber Academy, he created the flagship ‘Writing a Novel’ six-month course in 2009 and since then has helped hundreds of writers find their voice.
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