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Part love story, part murder mystery, set on the cusp of the Second World War, Russell Banks's sharp-witted and deeply engaging new novel raises dangerous questions about class, politics, art, love, and madness—and explores what happens when two powerful personalities, trapped at opposite ends of a social divide, begin to break the rules.

Twenty-nine-year-old Vanessa Cole is a wild, stunningly beautiful heiress, the adopted only child of a highly regarded New York brain surgeon and his socialite wife. Twice married, Vanessa has been scandalously linked to any number of rich and famous men. But on the night of July 4, 1936, at her parents' country home in a remote Adirondack Mountain enclave known as The Reserve, two events coincide to permanently alter the course of Vanessa's callow life: her father dies suddenly of a heart attack, and a mysteriously seductive local artist, Jordan Groves, blithely lands his Waco biplane in the pristine waters of the forbidden Upper Lake. . . .

Jordan's reputation has preceded him; he is internationally known as much for his exploits and conquests as for his paintings themselves, and, here in the midst of the Great Depression, his leftist loyalties seem suspiciously undercut by his wealth and elite clientele. But for all his worldly swagger, Jordan is as staggered by Vanessa's beauty and charm as she is by his defiant independence. He falls easy prey to her electrifying personality, but it is not long before he discovers that the heiress carries a dark, deeply scarring family secret. Emotionally unstable from the start, and further unhinged by her father's unexpected death, Vanessa begins to spin wildly out of control, manipulating and destroying the lives of all who cross her path.

Moving from the secluded beauty of the Adirondack wilderness to the skies above war-torn Spain and Fascist Germany, The Reserve is a clever, incisive, and passionately romantic novel of suspense that adds a new dimension to this acclaimed author's extraordinary repertoire.

Topics: World War II and Family

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061809583
List price: $10.99
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I'm still not sure what to say about this book. I wasn't expecting it to be so much of a soap opera, but ... well, that's what it is. What's really making it difficult to evaluate, however, is that it feels so incomplete. The flash forwards tell the eventual fates of two of the characters, but leaves two others shrouded in mystery. But even in the case of the characters whose lives are given a final punctuation, I felt as though a lot was left unexplored.

I can't help but wonder if Banks decided he wanted to write a trashy novel, but in the end couldn't commit to it.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I had really high hopes for this book and I think I gave it a fair chance but I just couldn't get into this book. None of the characters had any appeal for me and the storyline was a little too slow moving.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a book about bad choices made by less than perfect people. In other words, about your life and mine. The basic difference is that almost all of these people are rich, but trust me, their wealth does not improve their decision-making prowess.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Set in the 1930s, this is a story of multiple deceptions, class distinctions, madness, possible pedophilia, and two very strong personalities. It would make a good movie, but the book itself isn't as engrossing as the subject matter would indicate. The descriptive passages of the reserve were, for me, too long and too intricate.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I had never read Russell Banks before and I definitely should not have started with this title. It was full of trite dialog and had a preposterous plot, replete with characters which were more caricatures than real people. I only read it because I have a connection to the real reserve which is not like the one in this book.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Maybe I’d better start reading reviews again. I thought I’d picked up a Russell Banks book. Instead, I get Danielle Steele on steroids. Or should I say, HGH. Well, this is not to say that this was a drag to read. It fairly leapt along from start to finish. Thing is, there were no surprises along the way, and in reading, one didn’t expect any. What you read is what you get.I suppose movie rights are in the offing. Certainly, it’s ‘cinematic’ from page one, and I’d submit, opaquely so. Funny, I’m thinking that this is not a book I would have bought from the local B&N for example, based on the cover art. Since I borrowed this from the library, it’s not a book I picked up and perused before a purchase.The characters are strong (too strong?) and well-drawn. But maybe they’re over-sized. They fit best, really, up there on the silver screen. With music a-crescendoing.Jordan Groves is rich, he’s an artist, he flies his own plane, he’s a free-thinker, and handsome. Hey. Chicks dig him. His wife Alicia is a Nordic Goddess. He’s got two great kids. Vanessa Cole is his female counterpart in many ways, though damaged in some core way. Beautiful, rich and damaged. Hey. That’s sexy! Then there’s Hubert St. Germain who seems to have been raised by wolves in the wilds of the Adirondacks - hunter, trail guide, trapper, and that wool plaid standby - Woodsman. Eh….maybe a little stupid, Socially inept, at least. The strong, silent type, yeah?Ah, enough. It ain’t that bad. It rips right along just fine, even if the denouement is a bit fey. It’s just a funny book for me to have been reading. I’ll even go so far as to say that if’n you ain’t me, you just might just love it!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Banks gives us period detail, romance, beautiful scenery, tragedy, social commentary and the shadow of war; the images of air, water and earth pervade the novel with the brittleness of the people who walk through it for a brief time. Yet it never really comes together, or comes alive; the characters are over described and inert and the narrative too programmatic. Disappointing.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I got three quarters of the way through this book and gave it up. The story just didn't pull me in, nor did I particularly care for even one of the characters. I did like the descriptions of upstate New York/Adirondacks and the glimpse into the arts world of the time, but it wasn't enough to make me slog on. I really wanted to like it, and had been looking forward to reading the book ever since I got it. Oh well. Maybe I'll finish it sometime in the future. Or not.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Banks has done better, much better. I really like RB, but when he misses, he misses big. I read this several months ago, and don't recall much (actually, I recall quite a bit more than I thought I did, but--spoiler alert--not whether the main character dies in Spain or not). I'm thinking that if he did indeed die, that was my favorite part.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I did not enjoy this one as much as the other Banks' books that I have read - including Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, and Story of Jamaica. But, I enjoyed the Adirondack setting, having lived in Plattsburgh years ago and hiked the high peaks often.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Read all reviews

Reviews

I'm still not sure what to say about this book. I wasn't expecting it to be so much of a soap opera, but ... well, that's what it is. What's really making it difficult to evaluate, however, is that it feels so incomplete. The flash forwards tell the eventual fates of two of the characters, but leaves two others shrouded in mystery. But even in the case of the characters whose lives are given a final punctuation, I felt as though a lot was left unexplored.

I can't help but wonder if Banks decided he wanted to write a trashy novel, but in the end couldn't commit to it.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I had really high hopes for this book and I think I gave it a fair chance but I just couldn't get into this book. None of the characters had any appeal for me and the storyline was a little too slow moving.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a book about bad choices made by less than perfect people. In other words, about your life and mine. The basic difference is that almost all of these people are rich, but trust me, their wealth does not improve their decision-making prowess.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Set in the 1930s, this is a story of multiple deceptions, class distinctions, madness, possible pedophilia, and two very strong personalities. It would make a good movie, but the book itself isn't as engrossing as the subject matter would indicate. The descriptive passages of the reserve were, for me, too long and too intricate.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I had never read Russell Banks before and I definitely should not have started with this title. It was full of trite dialog and had a preposterous plot, replete with characters which were more caricatures than real people. I only read it because I have a connection to the real reserve which is not like the one in this book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Maybe I’d better start reading reviews again. I thought I’d picked up a Russell Banks book. Instead, I get Danielle Steele on steroids. Or should I say, HGH. Well, this is not to say that this was a drag to read. It fairly leapt along from start to finish. Thing is, there were no surprises along the way, and in reading, one didn’t expect any. What you read is what you get.I suppose movie rights are in the offing. Certainly, it’s ‘cinematic’ from page one, and I’d submit, opaquely so. Funny, I’m thinking that this is not a book I would have bought from the local B&N for example, based on the cover art. Since I borrowed this from the library, it’s not a book I picked up and perused before a purchase.The characters are strong (too strong?) and well-drawn. But maybe they’re over-sized. They fit best, really, up there on the silver screen. With music a-crescendoing.Jordan Groves is rich, he’s an artist, he flies his own plane, he’s a free-thinker, and handsome. Hey. Chicks dig him. His wife Alicia is a Nordic Goddess. He’s got two great kids. Vanessa Cole is his female counterpart in many ways, though damaged in some core way. Beautiful, rich and damaged. Hey. That’s sexy! Then there’s Hubert St. Germain who seems to have been raised by wolves in the wilds of the Adirondacks - hunter, trail guide, trapper, and that wool plaid standby - Woodsman. Eh….maybe a little stupid, Socially inept, at least. The strong, silent type, yeah?Ah, enough. It ain’t that bad. It rips right along just fine, even if the denouement is a bit fey. It’s just a funny book for me to have been reading. I’ll even go so far as to say that if’n you ain’t me, you just might just love it!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Banks gives us period detail, romance, beautiful scenery, tragedy, social commentary and the shadow of war; the images of air, water and earth pervade the novel with the brittleness of the people who walk through it for a brief time. Yet it never really comes together, or comes alive; the characters are over described and inert and the narrative too programmatic. Disappointing.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I got three quarters of the way through this book and gave it up. The story just didn't pull me in, nor did I particularly care for even one of the characters. I did like the descriptions of upstate New York/Adirondacks and the glimpse into the arts world of the time, but it wasn't enough to make me slog on. I really wanted to like it, and had been looking forward to reading the book ever since I got it. Oh well. Maybe I'll finish it sometime in the future. Or not.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Banks has done better, much better. I really like RB, but when he misses, he misses big. I read this several months ago, and don't recall much (actually, I recall quite a bit more than I thought I did, but--spoiler alert--not whether the main character dies in Spain or not). I'm thinking that if he did indeed die, that was my favorite part.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I did not enjoy this one as much as the other Banks' books that I have read - including Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, and Story of Jamaica. But, I enjoyed the Adirondack setting, having lived in Plattsburgh years ago and hiked the high peaks often.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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