BookBrowse Reviews Banishing Verona by Margot Livesey

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Banishing Verona

by Margot Livesey

Banishing Verona by Margot Livesey X
Banishing Verona by Margot Livesey
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2004, 336 pages

    Paperback:
    Sep 2005, 384 pages

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

From the book jacket: 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.....

Comment: This is a love story with a twist - no easy answers, no assured happy ending - just two odd people looking for something that they might just have found in each other.   Zeke is a 29 year-old housepainter, living in London; he has the 'face of a Raphael angel' but has great difficulty relating to people.  Just like the narrator of The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time, Zeke has Asberger's Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism.  He finds it very difficult to read body language in others, or express it in himself - some of the most memorable scenes are where he grapples to interpret the expressions on the faces of others, in order to respond with his own appropriate, learned, response. Verona is a successful, heavily pregnant radio show host, with myriad problems of her own.  She appears in Zeke's life under false pretences and just as quickly disappears, but neither can forget the other. So when Verona calls Zeke from Boston, with no explanation as to why she left, asking him to come to  meet her, Zeke throws his ordered, cautious life aside to get on an airplane for the first time in his life, to go and join her - only to find that she's not there.

Library Journal says 'this gem of a novel manages to be funny, frightening, and upbeat all at the same time'; and Kirkus Reviews comments that '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.'

This review first ran in the September 1, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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