Twenty-nine-year-old Vanessa Cole is a wild, stunningly beautiful heiress, the adopted only child of a highly regarded New York brain surgeon. 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 of a heart attack, and a mysteriously seductive local artist, Jordan Groves, lands his 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.
©2008 Russell Banks; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers
Have you ever watched a really bad telenovela? This is worse. I listened on to the very end, in a sort of a stunned trance, not believing that any book, let alone one by Russell Banks, could be so bad! A hackneyed, melodramatic, and haphazardly organized mess revolving around two narcissistic trouble-makers.
And the narration? omigosh! Sometimes the reader sounded like he had made a bet he could narrate the book while holding the text upside down, at other times, he seemed strangely and inappropriately overexcited, using a voice one might use to shout through a wall to someone trapped in a burning building. I downloaded this book on impulse, because I have enjoyed Russell Banks in the past. What a mistake!!
I read the other reviews here and went to remove the Reserve from my basket. Due to clumsiness on my behalf I ended up downloading the book. I was pleasantly impressed. The adaptation is fine - the narrator does different voices for different parts but these are perfectly decent. The other reviews made me dread a high-camp series of high pitched voices - far from it - and shame on those reviewers. The only reason I've not given it a higher rating is because I'm a very miserly scorer. The book is nowhere near as good as Cloudsplitter and I've scored it accordingly.
The Reserve was a good holiday listen - don't be put off by catty reviewers!
Having enjoyed Russell Banks' "Continental Drift", I purchased "The Reserve". I should have been alerted to the impending catastrophe when the narrator self-described his presentation as "The Reserve, performed by Tom Stechschulte". Indeed, this book was not read, it was "performed". The performer attempted to create unique voices for each character, and his imitations of female voices are incompetent to the point of being embarrassing and painful to hear, sounding more like a parody of a gay man. When a fine actor like Winona Ryder reads "The Diary of a Young Girl" without attempting to imitate a male voice for Mr. Dussel, it is inexcusable for Tom Stechschulte to impose his performance on us.
I shouldered on, only to find that "The Reserve" has none of the qualities of "Continental Drift". The plot degrades into a silly tale of characters making foolish, unmotivated decisions. With another two hours of "performance" to go, I doubt that I will finish listening.
Well, I chose this book because of the narrator. I absolutely love Tom Stechschulte. Well, this was the most boring book i've ever listened to. I actually fast forwarded a bit to get through some of it. The ending was sort of interspersed with the middle and it was just very disjointed.
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