Heart and Soul
by Maeve Binchy
I’m almost out of Maeve Binchy books to read and that makes me incredibly sad. The Irish author passed away last year after writing 16 novels and a handful of short story collections. After finishing Heart and Soul I now only have one of her books left unread. I’m sure I’ll return to her earlier books again, but I hate that I only have one completely new story left to discover.
Heart and Soul is set in Dublin and tells the story of Clara, who is starting a new heart clinic in the bustling city. Despite a frustrating ex, two bratty daughters and a penny-pinching boss, Clara manages to get the clinic up and running with an excellent staff. She handpicks everyone from the nurses and dietician to the security guard.
In Binchy’s trademark style we wander in and out of various characters lives, watching them fall in love, tackle new challenges and learn more about themselves along the way. This book includes many familiar faces. We reconnect with characters from her other novels, (especially Scarlet Feather, Quentins, Nights of Rain and Stars and Evening Class) and see how they are doing now. You don’t have to read those books to appreciate this one, but it’s a nice surprise to meet those characters again.
I particularly enjoyed Anya’s story. She’s a sweet Polish girl just hoping to find some work in Ireland. Her sincere joy at life despite her ups and down was lovely. A few areas in the story faltered, like a section with a priest and a woman who is avidly pursuing him, but that wasn’t enough to detract for the overall book.
BOTTOM LINE: If you love Binchy’s work then definitely pick this one up. She is a comfort read for me and I almost always enjoy her.
Image of Dublin from here.