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Banishing Verona: A Novel Paperback – October 14, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (October 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805074627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805074628
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,280,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Margot Livesey's Banishing Verona is the story of two people who enjoy an enchanted evening together, and then spend the next few weeks chasing each other across continents in order to decide if it's the real thing. Zeke Cafarelli is an endearingly timid, rather obsessive-compulsive housepainter who dismantles clocks, "laying out the springs and coils in careful sequence and putting them back together," in order to gain the courage to leave his house. Verona MacIntyre is a seven-months-pregnant radio talk show host who goes back and forth between wanting to rescue her wayward brother and simply wanting to rescue herself. The backdrop for this ethereal novel is London and Boston, and Livesey does a masterful job of creating characters out of the cities and places that house her protagonists.

Banishing Verona is a love story at its core; however, Zeke and Verona are seen together in only a few scenes. Instead, Livesey tells the story from each character's perspective, overlapping time and place yet creating entirely unique situations. Each event is described with such precision that even the most mundane tasks take on a sense of importance that feels almost palpable. ("Then he noticed the red light on the phone, blinking ... He raised the receiver and heard only the usual high-pitched note; he had no idea what to do next.")

While her attention to detail may seem a bit excessive at times, Livesey is undeniably adept at creating a vivid, colorful world whose only purpose is to exist as a backdrop for Zeke and Verona's search for self, and for each other. Even secondary characters, like Zeke's employee Emmanuel and Verona's brother Henry, are only there to accentuate the good (and the bad) in our hero and heroine. Still, the underlying message here is that no one ever really knows anyone else, or as Zeke says, "Only years later ... did he grasp that even at their most vivid ... his thoughts were invisible, not only to teachers and tyrants, but to everyone..." What keeps us reading this dreamy novel until the very last page is the hope that people exist who are willing to take a chance on what can never truly be a sure thing. --Gisele Toueg

From Publishers Weekly

Livesey's lovely fifth novel tells the story of Zeke, a 29-year-old London housepainter with "the face of a Raphael angel" and an autism-like difficulty relating to other people, and Verona, who shows up at a house Zeke is working on, very pregnant and claiming to be the owners' niece. After they spend a night together, Verona disappears, leaving a pair of painter's coveralls nailed to the floor. Neither can forget the other. As Zeke goes on a hunt for the mysterious Verona, she calls him—from Boston, where she has, in a slightly far-fetched turn of events, gone to hunt down her blithely amoral brother, Henry, to convince him to repay his creditors, who have begun threatening her. Zeke heeds her instructions to meet her there, only to spend days alone in a hotel room as she contacts him from New York and then from London, when, Henry's financial matters settled, she abruptly goes home. Devastated, he returns to London, ignores her calls (even burying his answering machine to fully banish her), but finally gives in to the powerful connection he felt the moment he met her. The off-kilter chronology of their alternating stories works well, and both Zeke and Verona have just enough quirks to be endearing without being implausible; the supporting characters are similarly well realized. As Livesey (Eva Moves the Furniture) gently probes the depths of longing, betrayal and forgiveness, her gift for creating sublimely unexpected sentences is abundantly on display: Zeke's "emotions were swirling and scattering like leaves in a playground on a windy day; he glimpsed joy, rage, hope, amazement, jealousy, frustration and exaltation flashing by." "You're the opposite of Narcissus," an old girlfriend of Zeke's tells him. Moments like these are ghosts that dance in the reader's vision long after the photographer's flashbulb has popped.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Margot Livesey is the acclaimed author of the novels The House on Fortune Street, Banishing Verona, Eva Moves the Furniture, The Missing World, Criminals, and Homework. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vogue, and The Atlantic, and she is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. The House on Fortune Street won the 2009 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Livesey was born in Scotland and grew up on the edge of the Highlands. She lives in the Boston area and is a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College.

Customer Reviews

It's such a funny, deeply charming book.
BookNerd
Ever since I read The Missing World, Margot Livesey has been one of my all-time favorite authors.
CoffeeGurl
I was immediately drawn in by the characters, Zeke and Verona.
J. Rosenberg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Rosenberg on November 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
I was immediately drawn in by the characters, Zeke and Verona. I so much wanted their relationship to work out, that when at one point I wasn't sure it would, my "heart fell."

They were totally alive to me, as were the supporting cast of parents, brothers and friends. The descriptions of the way Zeke responded to life were clear and fascinating. I was particularly charmed by his encounter with the nurse, Jill, and their few days together in Boston.

There were a few tiny points that might have been hard to believe, such as Jill's beginning her work as a nurse the day after she arrived in Boston from London, but I accepted it all because it was so obvious that Livesey cared about her characters.

I recommend this highly to anyone who has suffered through books whose characters' actions make no sense and through books that are written only to confuse the reader. In this case, I knew exactly how I was supposed to feel when it ended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on December 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ever since I read The Missing World, Margot Livesey has been one of my all-time favorite authors. Her novels are often dark and thought-provoking, but with a prose so beautiful that you cannot put her books down. I couldn't wait to read another one of her novels. I am so glad I read Banishing Verona. Zeke is a twenty-nine-year-old house painter and handyman in London. He is described as having the face of a Raphael angel. But Zeke is not good at dealing with people. He possesses communication problems that are not unlike that of an autistic person. However, the appearance of a strange woman changes things in his life in dramatic ways. No sooner does Verona appear at the house that he is working on than she vanishes. Zeke soon finds himself in a cat and mouse chase, trying to track down Verona, while at the same time dealing with unfinished business regarding his family. There are various twists throughout the novel.

Once again, Margot Livesey delivers a dark, beautiful novel that enthralls from beginning to end. This novel, while a little complex to describe in a short plot summary, is a literary marvel. It is in some ways better than Eva Moves the Furniture, my favorite Livesey novel. Zeke is a wonderful and abstruse character, and Verona is as elusive as a character could get. The development of the story is a little disjointed in the beginning, but falls into place quickly enough. There are a few disarming surprises in this novel that are not unlike the ones in Criminals and The Missing World, but without the shock factor of the aforementioned novels. The one thing I did not like in the story was how one of the characters settled in and was employed soon after arriving to Boston from London. That bit of the book is quite unrealistic. Other than that, Banishing Verona is a must-read in more ways than one. I urge readers to try Margot Livesey if they haven't done. She is without a doubt one of the best British writers of today.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Niksic VINE VOICE on September 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Banishing Verona" is the story of Verona and Zeke, two people who fall in love due to a very chance encounter. Zeke is a painter, and Verona shows up at the home of one of his clients, claiming to be their niece. Verona and Zeke spend one night together, and then Verona up and disappears. The two main characters appear in only a few scenes together...most of the book focuses on their attempts to come to terms with their own individual lives. This is the first book of Margot Livesey's that I've read, and while I enjoyed her writing style, I though the plot of this book really dragged. I had a hard time connecting with Zeke or Verona, and thought Livesey paid a bit too much attention to detail. It was a very tedious read, and I cannot in good conscience give it a high recommendation.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hendry VINE VOICE on January 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Margot Livesey's Banishing Verona is simply a wonderful novel. The novel concerns the relationship between Zeke, a 29 year old painter and handyman who suffers from mild Asperger's Syndrome (similar to autism) and Verona, a single, pregnant woman in her mid-30s in contemporary London. Zeke's Asperger's makes it difficult for him to understand human relationships. He once asks a therapist why he has to always respond to people who greet him. "What if I don't feel like it?" He is painting a house at the beginning of the novel when he encounters Verona. The two share a connection that defies reason. She leaves the next day, but the two spend the next several weeks struggling to find one another. Zeke's difficulties with human relationships in general and his relationship with Verona in particular accentuate the notion that no one can understand human relationships. Some may be able to perform better on the surface than others, but in the end, don't we all behave badly? Banishing Verona is a marvelous, compelling read. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Schau on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Opening a Livesey novel is always an adventure -- she never takes a predictable direction. There is no such thing as a Livesey set of characters or circumstances; no one Livesey book prepares you for the next. She reminds of Anne Tyler in her ability to distill humanity into one reading experience. That said, this one is a star short of her very best, but still compelling and wise. Does it suffice to say that at least three times the combination of the writer's character development and language stopped this reader in his tracks? The equivalent of a concert show-stopper on the page.
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