The Riddle of the Sphinx

review master
Title: The Riddle of the Sphinx
Author: Alexandre Montagu
Publisher: Persepolis Press
Release Date: April 19th, 2019
Genre(s): LGBT Fiction, Historical, Cultural
Page Count: 382
Reviewed by: LenaRibka
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5


From a desperate escape on horseback out of revolutionary Iran to the glittering nightclubs of Paris, from forbidden passion in the halls of Princeton to the high-stakes drama of a New York law practice, THE RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX achieves the rare feat of echoing long after the last page.

A psychological drama that unfolds through the lens of alternate realities, the novel explores free will, destiny and the many guises and disguises of an individual’s identity: A young boy in the elite social circle of the royal Iranian Pahlavi court in the 1970s suffers an abrupt disruption of his privileged life when the Shah and his 2,500-year-old monarchy fall. A Princeton scholar’s promising future is derailed by an obsessive love affair. A corporate lawyer at the pinnacle of his career at a prestigious New York law firm begins to question his picture-perfect life.

Combining lyrical prose with international suspense, Montagu takes us on a dramatic journey of exile, sexual obsession and self-discovery. THE RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX is a literary “vipassana” that explores the workings of the human mind, revealing the transcendental and existential reality hidden behind the illusions that are a hallmark of the human condition.

Very difficult to rate.

How to rate a book that was great up to 90% and then, at the final 10%, it turned unexpectedly to such a huge disappointment, that everything that you enjoyed in this book BEFORE appeared in a totally new light. When the last 10% simply RUINED the whole book for you?!
Is it a one star because I didn’t like the ending? Or is it 4+1/2=2.5 stars? (thinking mathematically).

Alexandre Montagu tells us a life story of Eric Richardson, aka Keyvan, of Iranian origin. From his childhood in the royal Iranian circles in the 1970s, through the Iranian Revolution and following escape from his homeland, through his college years in Princeton and up to his successful career as a corporate lawyer in New York. The book could be divided in 3 parts – the present time, the childhood years in Iran and the college years in Princeton. Though the whole story could be seen as a circle: we start with the present and we came back to the present time at the end. The circle is closed.

An epic journey through the time, the culture, the history, the traditions, cultural and mentality barriers, broken hopes, fear and desire and spiritual growth.

This book is EXTREMELY good written. Really good. An exquisite lyrical prose. A story with an enormous educational background and a cultural enrichment. A very interesting structure and twists. But WHY WHY WHY this ENDING?!

I am not a Buddhist. I am not religious. I don’t believe that a man who was attracted to men all his life, could suddenly wake up one day, after a very strange dream, and (view spoiler)

My biggest problem is the message that this book is SUPPOSED to deliver at the end. We live in the twenty-first century FGS. To be free = to remain true to yourself and to your sexuality. And not to become a Buddhist.

Still I would highly recommend this book to all readers who enjoy gay fiction.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of The Riddle of the Sphinx provided by Persepolis Press via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.

I would highly recommend this book to all readers who enjoy gay fiction.

1 comment

  • The blurb didn’t really attract me (sounds pretentious) and I won’t read books that make me want to throw my kindle when I’m done.


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A passionate reader from Germany. I learned to read at the age of 4 and never stopped since then, though my books from that time were very different from what they are now. English is my third language, and I'm sorry for all grammar mistakes I made in my reviews. But I assure you, that my reading English is much better than my writing English. I'm a seeker for the books that differ from mainstream, that provoke the reader or have very often very opposite ratings.
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