Part love story, part murder mystery, set on the cusp of the Second World War, Russell Banks's newest novel raises dangerous questions about class, politics, art, love, and madness-and explores what happens when two powerful personalities begin to break the rules.
Vanessa Cole is a wild, stunningly beautiful heiress with a scandalous past. But on July 4, 1936, at her fami...more
I hoped to ring in the new year with one of my stalwart favorite authors. Anxious to read his new novel "Lost Memory of Skin", I figured I try to fill in the Banks blanks with a few of his more recent works I'd managed to overlook. I'd been of late fixating on Goodreads cume scores, and "The Reserve"'s measly 2.90 might've been why subconsciously I was ignoring this novel's existence: I didn't want to set myself up for disappointment. Alas, the 2.90 doesn't lie. This pseudo-historical...more
Who Cares about a bunch of rich people in upstate New York and whether they're cranky or tired? Oh, so you are in the woods! Oh there's a woodsman. That one girl, who got a lobotomy at the end, hey. She was the only one who I could really connect with at the end! I hope anyone who reads this book never talks to me about it.
No, thank you.
PS: Russel Banks is one of my favorite guys, but he REALLY missed the bus on this one. And as usual someone had to be made an examp...more
Oy vey, people!
As far as I could tell from the preceding pages, this was going to be the story of a vain, fragile asshole falling in love/lust with a vain, arrogant asshole. I understand that the story eventually becomes a kind of murder mystery/w...more
I don't quite know why I wasn't able to give this a more enthusiastic review. The characters are interesting, the plot is inherently dramatic, I like this period of history, you had a dash of Spanish Civil War and the Hindenburg thrown in, there were family and class conflicts.
And yet, for all that, I either never understood these characters well enough or sympathized with them enough to give me that deeply satisfied connection that I look for in a book about dramas of the heart.
The lead charact...more
goodreaders seem to be down, in particular, on the language of this book, but it seems...more
I really like this passage, on page 99 of the P.S. edition:
"Vanessa was well aware that she had done a terrible, probably irreversible thing. But she had done terrible, irreversible things in the past, and the consequences had not been fatal or even life-t...more
This is a bad book. Banks is a terrific writer, but you wouldn't know it from the tinny dialogue that is clunky, awkward, and serves as exposition ("Here's why I did it, Jordan!") for...more
The Reserve is large tract of forest, lakes, and mountains controlled by very wealthy families who are, by the 1930s , in their third generation of entitlement, living the lodge and golf and fishing life in the heart of the Adirondacks.
Such places exist around the country; sometimes they are whole islands; at other times th...more
While I do agree with a lot of the other reviewers here that extol the richness of Banks's description of the Adirondacks and in...more
Jordan would be considered a rabble rouser in today'...more
The Reserve, which the book is named after is an area in the Adirondacks that was set aside and preserved. Wealthy landowners came th...more
While the Depression has an effect on the story, it is not a major part of this novel. I really liked the way that Banks's writing was evocative of a book written during the 30s.
If you can overlook what I've m...more
The main problem I had with it was that it was made out of Legos. Here's the Lego for the Hemingway main manly man character Robert Jordan Whatever, there's the lego for beautiful but troubled wife, let's make this Lego the abused rich wild child and then stack all the Legos into a rich man's enclave where the rich are diffe...more
Finding the book for a quarter at a Friends of the Library book sale, how could I lose? While I did get my quarter’s worth, I would not go so far as to say I was ‘gratified page by page.’ Hyperbole aside, there were incongruities with the char...more
The book's title refers to the...more
Spoiled socialite Vanessa Cole and self-centered artist Jordan Groves -- the flawed main characters in this Depression-era story of class differences and aberrant behavior -- do indeed consummate their flirtation. But by the time the brief sexual dalliance happens, it's almost an afterthought, and it has nothing to do with romance anyway.
The Reserve is the story of troubled heiress Vanessa Cole, whose destructive behavior wreaks havoc with the lives of those around her - her parents, f...more
As I read, I couldn’t help but think of Hemingway, but not only because Banks seems to ground his Jordan Graves as an artistic composite of Jake Barnes and Robert Jordan. Banks’ writing comes off as clean and sharp prose. Dialogue and tight description that captures the Adirondacks, the class struggles spotlighted in the Great Depression setting, and the...more