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


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter One

He had replaced five lightbulbs that day and by late afternoon could not help anticipating the soft ping of the filament flying apart whenever he reached for a switch. The third time, the fixture in the hall, the thought zigzagged across his mind that these little explosions were a sign, like the two dogs he had come across in the autumn, greyhound and bulldog, locked together on the grassy slope of the local park. He had given them a wide berth; still, he had felt responsible when on the bus next day a man turned puce and fell to the floor. By the fifth bulb, though, he had relinquished superstition and was blaming London Electricity. Some irregularity in the current, some unexpected surge, was slaughtering the bulbs. He pictured a man at head office filling his idle minutes by pulling a lever. Meanwhile, hour by hour he emptied the upstairs rooms, slipping the bulbs from bedside lights and desk lamps.

He had just replaced the fifth bulb when the doorbell rang. Often, if he were up a ladder, Zeke didn't bother to answer the knocks and rings of late afternoon; the owners of the house, the Barrows, were away and the callers were never for him. But now the pallor of the sky, the flashes of light and dark, the weariness of working alone, all conspired to make even the prospect of rebuffing a smartly dressed double-glazing salesman, or a disheveled collector for Oxfam, a pleasure. Last Friday, in a similar mood, he had found a boy on the doorstep, thin as a junkie, pretending to be blind. He had the dark glasses, the cane, the fluttery stuff with the hands. You're a painter, he had said, sniffing slightly. Zeke had given him fifty pence. Later he had looked out of the window and seen the boy sitting on a wall, reading a newspaper.

He set aside the wallpaper steamer and went to open the front door. On the doorstep a woman, minus collecting tin or clipboard, filled his vision. He hadn't replaced the hall bulb yet, and in the dim light her features took a moment to assemble. He made out abrupt dark eyebrows above a substantial nose and plump, glistening lips, the opposite of pretty.

Briefly, Zeke was baffled. Then he went through the steps he'd learned from the poster he'd been given at the clinic. Eyes wide, a glimpse of teeth, corners of the mouth turning up rather than down—usually these indicated a smile, which could, he knew, mean anger but often meant the opposite. Yes, she was smiling, although not necessarily for him. Her expression had clearly been prepared in advance, but he admired the way she held her face steady at the sight of him, and of his work clothes. His jeans and shirt were so paint-spattered as to be almost a separate entity.

"Good afternoon." She stretched out a hand and, seeing his, white with plaster, faltered, neither withdrawing nor completing the gesture.

"Hi," he said, hating the single stupid syllable. She was tall for a woman, his height save for the step, and dimly familiar, though not as herself. As she began to speak, he realized who she reminded him of: the bust of Beethoven on his father's piano, something about the expansiveness of her features, the way her tawny hair sprang back from her forehead.

"I'm the Barrows' niece," she said.

In the cold air her breath streamed toward him, feathery plumes, carrying more words, perhaps an entire sentence, which Zeke lost as he took in the little beads of moisture on her upper lip. When her mouth stopped moving he said, "I'm Zeke, the painter. The Barrows are away."

"But they told you I was coming," she said, with no hint of a question. He was still wondering—had they or hadn't they?—when she stooped, and he saw that she was not alone. Before he could offer to help she swept past him, a suitcase in each hand. He turned from closing the door to find she had set the cases at the foot of the stairs and was standing in the doorway, surveying the living room. Under the influence of her attention, Zeke saw again what his work had revealed: the ragged plaster painted not a single color but in pale bands of blue and brown, gray and yellow, the work of some artist he couldn't name. In the middle of the floor, like an ungainly prehistoric animal, squatted the furniture, piled up and draped in dust sheets.

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
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Take This Man
    Take This Man
    by Brando Skyhorse
    "A chorus of six men calling me Son might sound ludicrous to you, but to me it's the sound of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...

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

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

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.