Reminiscent of Jeffrey Archer or Barbara Taylor Bradford novels, Monique Domovitch’s Scorpio Rising tells the separate tales of two wounded young people in the 1950s, one in America, one in France. The reader knows from the start they’re destined to meet, and the moment young Alex enters an architectural competition culminating in Paris there’s an eager sense of anticipation. But the path to meeting, even the path to survival, is strewn with challenges. In Brooklyn, 12-year-old Alex dreams tall buildings and decides to break the same sexual rules his mother flaunts. Meanwhile in Paris Brigitte Dartois stumbles from abuse of one kind to another, earnestly trying to believe in herself and her future. Alex is goal-driven, Brigitte strives for hope. But both know the shape of the art they want to create. And when they finally meet, both quickly recognize kindred spirits and true love.
Yes, it’s a love story, eventually. But it’s more than a romance. The cities of New York and Paris come to life, the cultures of architecture, fashion and art display their light and darker sides, and the era of the 1950s resonates with nicely woven details of everyday life. The writing is pleasingly fast and clear—no lingering looks, no hot breaths of passion and desire, nor even angst-driven depictions of the sexual misconduct that’s wounded this pair.
The timelines of the stories fit neatly together as the chapters progress, one in Alex’s world, one in Brigitte’s, leaving no confusion and keeping the reader turning pages faster and faster towards the end. And then, as everything’s resolved, there’s that final preview of further troubles awaiting, just in time to remind you there’s a sequel out there. Quick reading, no temptation to skim, flawed but attractive characters, and a well-told tale, this is one I have no trouble recommending.
Disclosure: I received a free ecopy in exchange for my honest review.