three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
15-Mar-Apr-2005
user_rating: 
0

A-BanishingVeronaAs Zeke, a beautiful 29-year-old painter and carpenter in London, finishes up a job, a pregnant woman, Verona, appears at his clients’ door, claiming to be their niece. The mildly autistic Zeke has trouble reading faces—but it’s clearly love at first sight. After sharing fried-egg sandwiches, Zeke and Verona spend the night together. The next morning, Verona (a talk show host) disappears, leaving a pair of painter’s coveralls nailed to the floor. And Zeke, who has trouble reading human behavior, must follow clues to her whereabouts if he wishes to follow his heart.
Henry Holt. 321 pages. $24. ISBN: 0805074627

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"In each of Livesey’s five novels, she puts family bonds and romantic love to the test, and we see it again in Banishing Verona, a beautiful novel that is, at its heart, about forgiveness." Kera Bolonik

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"The resulting tale unfolds with an enchanting deliberation. … While the answers aren’t easy, either for the characters nor for the reader, the journey of discovery is richly satisfying." Robin Vidimos

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"The people who made Notting Hill would get it about right—with a stammering Hugh Grant as Zeke and Toni Collette (before she lost the weight) as Verona. But they would likely sacrifice the beautiful balance of wit and wisdom that Livesey maintains." Priscilla Hodgkins

New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"What this reviewer will say is that the story line in Banishing Verona is one of fiction’s four or five classic chestnuts. … There are two stories here, two mysteries. Somehow Ms. Livesey gets them to stand, in all their oddness, for the story and mystery that any two lovers revolve in separately while headed toward a common orbit."
Richard Eder

Chicago Tribune 1.5 of 5 Stars
"A reader would like nothing better than to believe that these two are soul mates, brought together by mischievous fate, destined to follow each other to the ends of the earth. But we need to see it happen on the page." Julia Livshin

NY Times Book Review 1.5 of 5 Stars
"We are bounced between Zeke’s story and Verona’s, each episode more strained than the one preceding. … Occasionally Livesey will pause for a bit of reflection on her madcap goings-on, but rather than advancing the merits of the story, these attempts at clarification only point out the ludicrousness of the whole enterprise." Katherine Dieckmann

Critical Summary

Livesey (Eva Moves the Furniture) bares open the human heart in Banishing Verona. Her writing is as elegant as ever as she alternates between Verona and Zeke’s perspectives on their lives and examines the ties that bind them to their lovers and families. Most critics enjoyed this cerebral approach. A few, however, thought it forced as each character jetsets across the continent amid missed connections. Zeke unquestionably steals the show. His labors seem "no less heroic than Ulysses" as he follows his heart and gains insight into what it means to be human (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). The love-at-first-sight storyline may have a few readers rolling their eyes—but then again, isn’t that just one of love’s many mysteries?