I want to start by stating when I signed up to read this as part of the Book Club Bash, I had not realized I had at one point begun to read it last year when it came out. The opening scene turned me off and I was not interested in reading about a male protagonist at the time mainly, from what I can remember, because of the way she does character building. I did not like Alex at first so I had put it aside and never did finish it. Boy I could not have been more wrong, the beginning may bother you like it did me the first time and again this is all because of how Ms. Domovitch does her character building. Just one example of this is how she uses the experiences of the past to develop the experiences in the future for the group of players within the pages of Scorpio Rising. My advice? Push on through the first two or three chapters you will not be disappointed.
There are two main protagonist and a few supporting characters in this who come together in a type of blended montage of old and new. Ms. Domovitch writes in alternating narratives and with the all the characters having such strong voices it is easy to follow. The narratives blend and weave back and forth, their stories each seeming to have the flavors of different literary pieces from the past, almost a classical feeling. And with the story's setting from the era of early 1940's America and France to the early to mid 1960's it gives it an edge of those paperbacks you would find around the summer rental growing up (if you are my age which is mid-40's).
Alex comes from a horrific childhood which he did not let set him back in his dreams in fact he uses these experiences as a way to catapult and keep them solidified throughout his advanced schooling to be an architect. Despite his mother being a prostitute who would practice her trade while he tried to sleep in his own bed, in the same room, he ended up achieving one dream, to finish school and move across the bridge and into Manhattan where his dreams rose above the tallest buildings and beyond. However he never was quite able to rid himself as many of us have experienced in our lives, of all the dirty remnants of the past. Damaging his ability to have any lasting or healthy relationships with women, which will end up biting him back hard in the end, it ends up doing the opposite to his ambition. His drive was strong and at the expense of repeating another reviewer, I to had the feeling of Mad Men, which makes sense since it is set to be in the expanse of the 1940'so the early 60's, however for me it reminded me more of the 1970's era. There was a sense of the disco mentality, but I am wondering if the feeling was due to his lack of being able to connect emotionally with not just women but anyone. The 70's were all about the "me" no one made connections on an intimate level. It was a rebellion of the 60's love fest where you love everyone and the beginning of the love myself, not thy neighbor. I am taken to the backseat of the car at the beginning scene to "Saturday Night Fever" where in the end his exclamation of, "what was your name again?" comes to mind.
Brigitte gave me the same feeling I had when I read a novel years ago based on the early life of Coco Chanel. It had the same feeling of rising from the bottom and entering into a world from nothing to become something and shining. Like Alex, she took what she had from a broken home, quite literally in fact and had to overcome her misconceptions and warped sense of relationships due to the abuse from her step-father and abandonment of her mother. Through her rebirth she ends up not only being able to cope but nearing the end of her this part of the series, end up being an influence to so many with her art.
Bridgette's story is still at the beginning, at least for me, and her character is not as strong as Coco's (and she will not go on to spy for Nazi Germany either) but as with Coco in the 20's she created style as she moved upward with experience, talent and age. Bridgette has many facet's and aspects which I have yet to really come to terms with, though I think this has more to do with the fact of the author having her past come back to haunt her constantly. Alex also has his past beginning to bite him in his nether regions but it has yet to be addressed fully in this novel, he first in the Scorpio Series.
The story builds into a strong and tall tale, structurally sound and full of bright colors where there was once the water-color mix of brownish grey; a 2 year old's blend of everything in her small white palette to an exquisite use of oil's used in a striking presentation of strength, beauty and grace. Each character becoming more and more complex as they gain not only life experience, but reclaim their damaged existence by creating their own futures. When they meet it can be described as a multimedia collage in narrative voices, some convoluted weaker sub-plots which stand up within the story due to the stronger "medium" of the main characters and presented on a global canvas.
My main issues are it took to long to get to the point, though a solid read, and one I could not stop reading once I was able to plug my way through all the back stories, was it ended with way to many ribbons and trails left untold and unfinished. I hope they are wrapped up in the second and final book, and considering our cliff hanger they will. Another issue is how easily Alex seems to give up his dream, but... perhaps he does not? No one knows until they pick the second one up, The Sting of The Scorpio (available on Amazon).
I highly recommend this as a not only a great book club read, but also one that would be great over the holidays when visiting those wonderful families we oh so miss each year and when we get there we need to find a bit of escape. This would be a grand way to escape the chaos of the holidays.