Written by Russell Banks
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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. 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.
From Publishers Weekly
SignatureReviewed by Scott TurowLike Banks's two most recent novels—Cloudsplitter, a 1998 book about the abolitionist John Brown, and The Darling, about the wages of '60s radicalism—The Reserve looks backward, this time to the 1930s. The reserve of the title is an Adirondack preserve, a membership-only sanctuary where the very rich partake of woodland leisure, hunting, fishing, dining, drinking, utterly remote from the anxiety and want that most Americans experienced in 1936. Jordan Groves, a noted artist and illustrator, makes his life literally and figuratively at the border of the property, along with his wife, Alicia, and two sons, Bear and Wolf. In a note that accompanies the advance reader's copy of the book, Banks says he was drawn back imaginatively to the world of his parents. But this novel is not merely an homage to the class-riven universe of the Depression but also to the way it was portrayed in its own time. Some plot elements nod in the direction of Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night. Much more clearly, the ghost of Ernest Hemingway, who is even an offstage character, treads the pages of The Reserve and leaves his tracks. Banks acknowledges that Jordan Groves is loosely based on the real-life Adirondacks artist, Rockwell Kent, but Groves, as Banks creates him, is a man in the Hemingway mold, whose first name seems to acknowledge Hemingway's quintessential hero, Robert Jordan in For Whom The Bell Tolls. Jordan Groves is a man's man, flying his airplane daringly around the Adirondacks and trekking the world in search of imagery and lovers. As is true of all the characters in this novel—and in Hemingway's—Groves is a person utterly without any sense of irony about himself, and thus any awareness of the degree to which he is a creature of what he claims to despise.Groves's unrecognized conflicts are forced into consciousness through the agency of Vanessa Cole, the twice-divorced adopted daughter of one of the Reserve's member families. Free of her last husband, a European nobleman whom she calls in her own mind Count No-Count, Vanessa is an alluring and determined seductress who sets her sights on Groves in the book's initial chapter. Death, adultery and homicide follow, shattering each of the would-be lovers' families.This is a vividly imagined book. It has the romantic atmosphere of those great 1930s tales in film and prose, and it speeds the reader along from its first pages. In fact, Banks talents are so large—and the novel so fundamentally engaging—that it continued to pull me in even when, in its climactic moments, I could no longer comprehend why the characters were doing what they were doing. By then, the denouement has been determined largely by the literary expectations of a bygone era where character flaws require a tragic end. Despite that, The Reserve is a pleasure well worth savoring. (Feb.)Scott Turow is at work on a sequel to Presumed Innocent.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Though Pulitzer Prizeâ€"winning Russell Banks made his name writing about the down-and-out, blue-collar side of Adirondack society (The Sweet Hereafter, Cloudsplitter), The Reserve represents a rare foray into chronicling the lifestyles of the rich and morally depraved. Inspiration for the novelâ€™s many plot twists and turns (and even more twisted characters) reportedly came from sources as varied as the life of flamboyant leftist artist Rockwell Kent to rumors about Ernest Hemingwayâ€™s troubled affair with a gorgeous but unstable mistress. Unfortunately, the New York Times expressed a majority opinion when it stated that the many threads of the story just didnâ€™t coalesce, resulting in a mere â€œpotboilerâ€ with â€œsilly and stereotype[d]â€ charactersâ€"a world away from Banksâ€™s best work.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
See all Editorial Reviews
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (February 10, 2009)
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