2009: 16. The Reserve

“When finally no one was watching her anymore, the beautiful young woman extracted herself from her parents and their friends and left the living room.”

The Reserve, Russell Banks

I just did not like this book.  It seemed like the kind of story that might appeal to me - set in the 1930’s in the Adirondack Mountains,* it tells the story of a rich young woman who meets up with a handsome artist (in the virile manly vein) while staying at her parents “camp” (read, snooty mansion on a pristine lake).  She decides she wants him, and trouble ensues.  This was just not my kind of book.  It seemed like Banks wanted to be Hemingway while he was writing the story - the artist was such a cliche of the rugged man who sleeps around, and fights for liberal causes, but is actually secretly super sensitive, and the woman was such a crazy neurotic little rich girl**, and the plot went every which way but up (and then just ended), and it just left me cold.  And SPOILER what was the thing about the way that everyone ended up so disastrously - I mean, ok, the artist goes to fight for Spain in the Civil War, sure, but then the rich girl is on the Hindenburg?  I could not suspend my disbelief in this way.

And yet, there is no doubt that Banks is a good writer.  His descriptive passages were vivid enough that I could see the places he’d created (especially when talking about the beauty of the region), and the parts of the book that worked for me really worked - certain characters seemed so real (like the artist’s wife and her lover, the local hunter/trapper trying to make his way in a changing world), that they belonged in a better book.  I have to say that it isn’t that Banks isn’t a good novelist or that I wouldn’t read another of his books.  Rather I thought that the story he told to tell here just wasn’t a very interesting one, and if he had a better/more original/whatever story to tell, I bet that it would be a pretty fine novel. 

*Ever since we went to Lake George for a weekend, I have been super into the Adirondacks and the camp lifestyle.

** SOOOOO crazy.


Date/Place Completed:  February 2009; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction; Library Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017