Excerpt from Banishing Verona by Margot Livesey, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Banishing Verona

By Margot Livesey

Banishing Verona
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Nov 2004,
    336 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2005,
    384 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Let me make some tea," he concluded, backing out of the room. In the kitchen, he hovered beside the dormant kettle and, to his own stupefaction, imagined telling her the story of his breakdown. Surely she would listen to him like she had the container salesman. Don't, he admonished. You only met her fifteen minutes ago. Even people he had known for years tended to back away when he mentioned his difficulties. As the kettle rumbled to a boil he heard a thud from the hall, followed by another. Her stocking feet appeared in the doorway, and he understood not only the noises he'd just heard but those that came most nights through his bedroom ceiling: one shoe, two shoe.

"Which side are you on?" he said, offering a mug of tea.

"Roundheads or cavaliers? Arsenal or Chelsea? Flat earth or solar system?"

"Mr. or Mrs. Barrow. Whose niece are you?"

"Mister's, can't you tell?" She turned and, heels striking the floor, carried her tea upstairs.

Alone with his own tea, Zeke thought, I am profoundly boring. He searched high and low in the rooms of his brain, checking the long front hall, the living room, the dining room, the narrow stairs, and couldn't find a trace of disagreement.

Normally he quit at five, but today he kept pressing spackle into even the smallest cracks until close to six-thirty. Then, in the face of an unbroken silence from above, he admitted defeat. He tidied his tools, washed his hands, and called the news of his departure, wanly, up the stairs.

"Wait." There she was on the landing. "Are you coming tomorrow? When?"

Her tawny hair was sticking up like a cockatoo's crest. "I aim for eight," he told her. "Not to worry. I can let myself in."

"I need keys." She swam down the stairs into the light, stopping on the last one, hand outstretched. He should have guessed then from the way her hazel eyes fastened on his that something was awry, either she wasn't on good terms with her aunt and uncle or Ms. F—weren't all fetuses female at first?—was a problematic guest, but the warmth of her breath, the lilt of her perfume, expunged rational thought. Helpless, he laid the keys in her palm.

"Will you be up to let me in?" he said. One cheek, her left, bore the crease of a pillow.

"Up with the lark, up with the milkman."

"Are you all right?" he found himself asking.

"Probably," she said. And then—surely all the buses of London rose an inch into the air—she leaned forward and pressed her lips, gently, to his.



The next morning Zeke rang the bell, knocked, tried the knob. The door stayed shut, the windows dark. Feeling like a dolt, he even bent down and called through the letter box. By the end of five minutes, he was holding on to himself, a kite on a gusty day. He fished around in his pockets, his bag, and was rewarded with a vision of his mobile phone in the pocket of his other jacket. As he walked around the corner, he counted the cigarette butts in the gutter—some crushed, some not—to keep himself from floating away. Seven, eight, eleven. Twice he had to stop and retrace his steps to make sure he hadn't missed one. Look down, he thought, not up. In the forecourt of the underground station, he saw a free phone and, trying not to think of all the hands, the mouths, that had passed this way, dialed the Barrows' number. The answering machine clicked on with a brief nasal message. She's stepped out for a paper, he told himself; she's taking a bath. Walking back, he forgot about the cigarettes and placed his feet securely in the middle of each paving stone.

At the house, nothing had changed. He knocked, rang, shouted again, before climbing in through the living room window. He had opened it the day before while using the steamer and, in the excitement of her arrival, neglected his usual security measures. Now the ease with which the sash slid up made him feel stricken. He had left her at the mercy of any passing vandal.

From Banishing Verona by Margot Livesey.  Copyright 2004 Margot Livesey.  All rights reserved.  No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.