The Reserve by Russell Banks

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Synopsis

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.

 

About Russell Banks

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Russell Banks is the former president of Cities of Refuge North America, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous international prizes and awards. Banks lives in upstate New York, and he was the New York State author from 2004–2008.
 
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 308 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Romance, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Reserve

Kirkus Reviews

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After Dr. Cole has a fatal heart attack the night of Jordan’s visit, Vanessa becomes convinced (not without reason) that her mother plans to have her committed once again to a discreet Swiss asylum.

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The New York Times

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Banks uses elements of Kent’s life and character, but makes his character, Jordan Groves, even more of a Hemingway hero — an impetuous womanizer drawn to contradictions: luxury and social justice, bright lights and wilderness.

Feb 17 2008 | Read Full Review of The Reserve

The New York Times

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Russell Banks’s new novel bears less resemblance to any of his gritty, visionary epics than it does to a melodramatic B movie from the 1940s.

Jan 29 2008 | Read Full Review of The Reserve

The Guardian

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The Reserve by Russell Banks 287pp, Bloomsbury, £14.99 Over 15 books, Russell Banks has distinguished himself as a writer blessed with a muscular, unflinching style he can apply to a variety of subjects.

May 17 2008 | Read Full Review of The Reserve

The Guardian

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The Reserve by Russell Banks Find this on the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop Set in the Adirondack mountains of America's eastern seaboard, the epo...

Apr 11 2009 | Read Full Review of The Reserve

The Guardian

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The Reserve by Russell Banks Bloomsbury £14.99, pp287 In places, Russell Banks's new novel feels as if it has been written by Barbara Taylor Bradford.

May 04 2008 | Read Full Review of The Reserve

Book Reporter

To a greater or lesser extent, for all of them, as Banks writes of Vanessa, “the truth was more a coloration of reality than the organizing principle of its underlying structure.” Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg (mwn52@aol.com) on January 23, 2011

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Reserve

AV Club

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Dr. Cole dies that night, and after the funeral, Vanessa asks Jordan to help spread her father's ashes.

Feb 13 2008 | Read Full Review of The Reserve

The Bookbag

Russell Banks is a respected, prizewinning American author.

Oct 13 2012 | Read Full Review of The Reserve

USA Today

The best part of Russell Banks' new novel, The Reserve, is the setting: the vast Adirondack wilderness in upstate New York that gets little national attention.It's a remote region that remains as poor as it is beautiful.

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Open Letters Monthly

Banks has set his novel in the Adirondack Mountains in 1936, the latter edge of the interwar period during which time, as World War I veteran Ford Madox Ford declared, “there were strong men” writing novels.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Howard Frank Mosher Los Angeles Times 3 of 5 Stars "The Reserve gratifies page by page.

Apr 23 2008 | Read Full Review of The Reserve

Oprah.com

When he's not dropping bombs over Fascist Spain, fighter pilot and irascible artist Jordan Groves is buzzing a serene Adirondack lake in his seaplane and trying to defuse bombshell Vanessa Cole, a fine-boned, rebellious socialite (think Katharine Hepburn) with a shameful secret.

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The Moderate Voice

This is another Guest Book Review by fiction writer Jessica Schneider who also writes for the highly-visited site Cosmoetica, is Book Editor for Monsters and Critics and is the only contributor to her own blog.‘ Book Review: The Reserve by Russell Banks by Jessica Schneider This being my firs...

Feb 21 2008 | Read Full Review of The Reserve

Reader Rating for The Reserve
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