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Russell Banks
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2.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,944 Ratings  ·  411 Reviews

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

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 29th 2008 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Rating details
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Jun 05, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up, read-in-2010
I abandoned this book around p. 50, shortly after Jordan Groves held his would-be-lover’s hand “tightly, but carefully, as if her hand were a small, captured bird, terrified and fragile, struggling to escape his powerful grip without injuring itself.”

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
Jan 03, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Yawn. Melodrama. Bad dialogue. This book wants to be a bad film.
(1.5 stars)

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
Jul 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those wanting a good laugh
Shelves: relationships
I am now (January 2010) listening to this novel on cd. I find it entertaining, a good listen. I had forgotten the story (that says something); and in the year and a half since I read it--my knowledge and experience has expanded. For one, I'm reading "The girls who went away," (2006) a non-fiction account of what happened when girls got pregnant out-of-wedlock (what a strange word--wedlock) prior to Roe v. Wade and the social revolutions of the 1970s'; which happens to be the genesis for all that ...more
Stephen Wallant
Jun 23, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
goodreaders seem to be down on this book, as do editorial reviewers (i've actually checked only the two reviews published on, which i assume must be the best). i can see why, but me, i'm not down on it. i've given it three stars because i don't think it's that special, and i don't care for the story much, but it's a good book about something important, and it's beautifully and captivatingly written.

goodreaders seem to be down, in particular, on the language of this book, but it seems

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
Alex Templeton
In a way, a disappointment, even though I can't say I didn't enjoy the book. Banks is one of my favorite writers (and the author of one of my all-time favorites, "The Sweet Hereafter"), a writer with a simple style filled with calm authority and devastating conclusions that kind of sneak up on you. This seemed to be an experimental novel in its way--a noir story about a femme fatale up in the NY Adirondacks during the mid 1930's--and is written in a style that I wouldn't have attributed to its a ...more
Mar 13, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I'll admit it. Even though I have hardly ever done this before, I quit more than half way and gave up. I have done this less than a handful of times before. Why? I'm getting too old to read sub-par books where the author is describing cardboard characters that I simply have no sympathy for. The whole plot seemed so contrived and unoriginal. Like he was trying way too hard. He writes beautifully, but it wasn't enough to pull me through.
Ron Charles
Russell Banks is turning down the heat. His most recent novels -- released to wide critical and popular acclaim -- were fiery tales of revolution: Cloudsplitter (1998) told the explosive story of abolition terrorist John Brown, and The Darling (2004) raced us through the sprawling horrors of Liberia's modern-day civil war. But with The Reserve Banks has narrowed his scope dramatically, returning to the smaller scale of his earlier fiction, even the compressed time frame of his fine short stories ...more
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Russell Banks is a member of the International Parliament of Writers and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous international prizes and awards. He has written fiction, and more recently, non-fiction, with Dreaming up America. His main works include the novels Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, Cloudsplit ...more
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