BANISHING VERONA

Margot Livesey

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 mysteriously disappears.
Both Zeke and Verona, it turns out, have complications in their lives,

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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 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 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 as he does about her, Zeke is consumed only with find­ing Verona.

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  • Picador USA
  • Paperback
  • September 2005
  • 368 Pages
  • 9780312425203

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About Margot Livesey

Margot Livesey is the award-winning author of a story collection, Learn­ing by Heart, and of the novels Homework, Criminals, The Missing World, and Eva Moves the Furniture, which was a New York Times Notable Book, an Atlantic Monthly Best Book of the Year, and a PEN/Winship finalist. Born in Scotland, she currently lives in the Boston area, where she is writer in residence at Emerson College.

Praise

“[Livesey’s] great gift is for concrete, tactile detail. Characters’ appear­ances are rendered with startling vividness. . . . And Livesey has a won­derful way with evocations of atmosphere and states of mind.” —Katherine Dieckmann, The New York Times Book Review

Discussion Questions

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?

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?

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. Is this true? What caused his breakdown?

What sort of a man is Henry? How does he rationalize what he does with his grandfather’s will? Verona says she and Henry share the same corrupt moral gene. Do you agree? Why does Verona feel such a sense of responsibility to Henry when he clearly thinks only about himself?

What is Henry’s attitude to money? How does this affect his relation­ship with his sister, his best friend and the woman he hopes to marry?

Zeke believes that his mother regards him as “broken beyond fixing.” Is this really how Gwen sees him? To what extent does her behavior exacerbate his difficulties? What is the nature of Zeke’s disorder? Does the novel suggest that his difficulties also have their rewards?

Zeke is described as looking like a Raphael angel and Henry is referred to as beautiful. How do these two very different men relate to their appearance? What else do they have in common that attracts Verona to Zeke?

What makes Zeke decide to tell his father about his mother’s infi­delity? Was this the right choice?

Would Jill and Zeke have become friends if they had met in London? What do they have in common besides being visitors to a foreign country?

Near the end of the novel Verona tells Zeke about a princess who is immune to gravity except when she swims in the palace lake. What does Verona hope to suggest by telling this story?

What does the title Banishing Verona refer to? What does Zeke mean at the end of the novel when he says that he’ll ‘try’? Is there a future for Zeke and Verona?