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Banishing Verona: A Novel
ISBN 0312425201 / 9780312425203 / 0-312-42520-1
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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 [via]