Title: "The Reserve"

Author: Russell Banks

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 289

Price: $24.95

In a nutshell: Set in 1936 in Adirondack Mountains of New York, this powerful and beautiful Russell Banks novel is close to a masterpiece. It centers on four characters, Vanessa Cole, a stunningly beautiful heiress; Jordan Groves, a famous, charismatic local painter (based loosely on Rockwell Kent, the painter) who flies his own plane; Alicia Groves, pretty but unhappy wife of Jordan; and Hubert St. Germain, an expert wilderness guide. These people interact, ironically, during the Great Depression — but in a wealthy summer playground — climaxed by a conflagration that changes all their lives forever.