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Banishing Verona: A Novel by Margot Livesey

Banishing Verona: A Novel (original 2004; edition 2004)

by Margot Livesey

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216653,956 (3.55)10
Title:Banishing Verona: A Novel
Authors:Margot Livesey
Info:Henry Holt and Co. (2004), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction. American.

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Banishing Verona by Margot Livesey (2004)



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Author Margot Livesey never fails to surprise and impress me. This is a love story -- the prinicipal characters are Zeke, a thirtysomething house painter with Asperger's and Verona, a radio journalist who is seven months pregnant. They spend most of the book apart, trying to reconnect, getting distracted, missing each other. But along the way they -- and we -- encounter a variety of memorable secondary characters -- friends, strangers, relatives. The book is very much about family, about adult relatives trying to deal with one another -- that push-and-pull thing we do -- trying to stay close, trying to be independent, redefining roles, making mistakes, feeling guilty, being made to feel guilty, forgiving, needing to be forgiven, never quite getting it right, then, when we least expect it, doing the one thing that, for a moment at least, makes everything exactly right. I think Livesey does a masterful job of writing about those relationships. The book is a love story on so many levels, involving so many people. The intricacies of character, of relationships, are so finely drawn. It's the quality I admired when I first read Livesey, in "Eva Moves the Furniture". In his journey to find Verona, Zeke meets a woman who is trying to learn a new word each day. That idea appeals to Zeke who likes words, likes plans. But it is Verona who gives us the best word in the book. Describing Verona's feelings for Zeke, the author writes: "She had never felt so fully apprehended by another person." It is the perfect word and it worked on me throughout the rest of the book, coloring so many of the relationships, adding another layer of meaning and insight. ( )
  mollygrace | Apr 25, 2014 |
Having just finished "The House on Fortune Street" I wanted to provide a brief review of Margot Livesey's "Banishing Verona," which absorbed me during the winter of 2004. At the time, my son was living in London on a semester abroad, and we live in the Boston area, so the dual locales of the story were an immediate draw. As she did so skillfully in "Criminials" and "The Missing World", Ms. Livesey deftly draws us into the inner thoughts and often peculiar motives of her characters, and creates pitch-perfect sense of place no matter where her story takes us - Scotland, London, Boston. Her narratives are filled with suspense because they are so remarkably plausible - bizarre situations and often disastrous decisions which would border on the absurd were her characters not so accessible to us. She leads us through a complex and fascinating labrynth with Zeke, Verona, their friends and family, and to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion which ties all threads together. The publication of Ms. Livesey's newest work will undoubtedly create a bump of interest in her backlist - I'm sure those who are just discovering her through House on Fortune Street will be delighted to follow up with Banishing Verona, where she's at the top of her game. ( )
1 vote dreamreader | Mar 21, 2009 |
Scary, funny plots, some of the creepiest villains in recent memory, and language both gorgeous and tart.
—Erin McGraw, Raleigh News & Observer
  NativeRoses | Jun 4, 2007 |
Liked this story a lot. I had real empathy for the male main character, Zeke. Verona was also a very interesting character. Their finding each other, seemed very poignant. ( )
  aemurray | May 7, 2007 |
Lovely and twisty tale of a man who can't remember faces goes looking for a woman who doesn't want to be found, because though he can't remember what she looks like and he did get her name, he loves her. Very sweet. ( )
  picardyrose | Mar 17, 2007 |
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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.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312425201, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:52 -0400)

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"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 friends and relatives. 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 mysteriously disappears." "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 embroiled in shady financial dealings. Zeke's father has had a heart attack, and his mother is threatening to run away with her lover. And yet, knowing as little about her as he does, Zeke is consumed only with finding Verona. But how does one find a missing person in a city the size of London? Go door to door, put up posters on lampposts, wait outside maternity wards? As Zeke pursues Verona, and she pursues Henry, both are forced to ask the perplexing question: Can we ever know another person?"--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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