Summary and book reviews of Banishing Verona by Margot Livesey

Banishing Verona

By Margot Livesey

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

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Book Summary

A couple begins an intense affair, only to be separated abruptly -- and perhaps irrevocably -- in this surprising, suspenseful love story.

Zeke is twenty-nine, a man who looks like a Raphael angel and who earns his living as a painter and carpenter in London. He reads the world a little differently from most people and has trouble with such ordinary activities as lying, deciphering expressions, recognizing faces. Verona is thirty-seven, confident, hot-tempered, a modestly successful radio show host, unmarried, and seven months pregnant. When the two meet in a house that Zeke is renovating, they fall in love, only to be separated less than twenty-four hours later when Verona leaves abruptly, without explanation, for Boston.

Both Zeke and Verona, it turns out, have complications in their lives, though not of a romantic kind. Verona's involve her brother, Henry, who is tied up in shady financial dealings. Zeke's father has had a heart attack and his mother is threatening to run away with her lover, all of which puts pressure on Zeke to take over the family grocery business. And yet he finds himself following Verona to Boston. As he pursues her, and she pursues Henry, both are forced to ask the perplexing question: Can we ever know another person?

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. ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Questions for discussion:
  1. What makes Verona flee after the first night she spends with Zeke? Why does she nail her clothes to the floor? How does Zeke understand this gesture?

  2. Zeke often feels ill at ease with other people yet in less than forty-eight hours he falls in love with Verona. Why does he respond to her so strongly? Verona is seven months pregnant and the host of a radio show. What attracts her to a man who paints houses for a living and can't tell jokes?

  3. How does Zeke function in the world? Why is restoring antique clocks the perfect hobby for him and why does he think that the clocks amplify his spirit? Zeke tells a nurse that his feelings stay constant as cathedrals. (p.34) Is this true? How does he cope with the ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

This is a love story with a twist - no easy answers, no assured happy ending.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (482 words).

Media Reviews
New York Newsday

In her delightful new novel, Margot Livesey presents us with an axiom that never gets within spitting distance of the QED Other people are essentially unknowable, therefore the only way to know another person is through love at first sight. Livesey's romantic formula proves that a good novel has nothing to do with good logic.

Entertainment Weekly

Banishing Verona captures the magic of an unlikely young romance...(Livesey's) love-struck protagonists meet just twice...but their longing for each other, tender, mutual, and inexplicable, is this lovely book's powerful underlying chord. Grade A-

Elle

A suspenseful, satisfying love story...One of Livesey's greatest gifts is a quiet, lyrical authority that makes it easy for readers to follow her anywhere, and believe in the journey every step of the way.

O Magazine

How can we trust in love? Everyone in Livesey's spirited cast has to figure out an answer to that question, and nothing could give me more pleasure than eavesdropping on them while they do.

Kirkus Reviews

...Livesey constructs another of her reflective but surprisingly gripping tales about odd people in peculiar circumstances that nonetheless reveal a great deal about human nature....Like all Livesey's novels notable for her penetrating knowledge of the human heart coupled with respect for its essential mysteries, both explored in elegant, evocative prose.

Booklist - Carol Haggas

Told from the parallel viewpoints of her wistful hero and his winsome heroine, Livesey's unlikely yet enchanting romance poignantly reveals the mysterious machinations of the human heart.

Publishers Weekly

As Livesey gently probes the depths of longing, betrayal and forgiveness, her gift for creating sublimely unexpected sentences is abundantly on display.... Moments like these are ghosts that dance in the reader's vision long after the photographer's flashbulb has popped.

Library Journal - Mary Margaret Benson

This gem of a novel manages to be funny, frightening, and upbeat all at the same time. Highly recommended.

Author Blurb Alice Sebold
Deftly plotted and filled with unexpected twists, Banishing Verona marks the arrival of another lyrical and wise novel from a writer whose work radiates with compassion and intelligence and always, deliciously, mystery

Author Blurb Julia Glass, author of Three Junes
Banishing Verona reminds me just why Margot Livesey is one of my favorite contemporary writers, those who keep the novel alive and vividly engaging. For her keen wit and wise heart, for her mingling of the tender with the diabolical -- never mind her knack for holding the reader in thrall to a suspenseful story -- she is a master, pure and simple.

Author Blurb Diane Johnson, author of L'Affaire
Margot Livesey's is such a personal, endearing, sharp voice, and this is a sly, special and funny book.

Reader Reviews
Beth

I absolutely loved this book! There were unexpected twists, and I enjoyed the story being told from both Zeke and Verona's perspective. I am looking forward to starting Eva Moves the Furniture, and I have bought all of her other novels. I am so ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

About the author: Margot Livesey is the award-winning author of a number of books but is best known for her 2001 novel, Eva Moves the Furniture; She was born in Scotland and currently lives in the Boston area, where she is writer in residence at Emerson College.

Related Links: Autism is believed to effect about 1.5 million Americans. For information about autism in general, try the Autism Society of America, and for Asberger's in particular I recommend a section of the University of Delaware's website maintained by OASIS (Online Asberger Syndrome Information & Support).

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