Heart and Soul

Thursday, September 19, 2013

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


JoAnn said...

It's been far too long since I read Maeve Binchy, but my mother seems to be on a 'Binchy Binge' at the moment. Will pick this one up for her :)

Brooke said...

I think Maeve Binchy sounds like the kind of comfort writer I need in my life! I've been lacking on true comfort reads in lieu of other priorities for awhile. Glad you enjoyed this one and thanks for the recommendation!

Lisa said...

I loved her earlier books - I can't tell you how many times I've read Circle of Friends - but I lost track of her later books. I'm glad to know I still have some wonderful stories ahead.

jmisgro said...

Have read anything by Marian Keyes or Cecelia Ahern....I just found Jojo Moyes, although she is not Irish I enjoy her books. Read 2 so far!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

JoAnn - They're perfect when you need a comfort read.

Brooke - I hope you like her!

Lisa - I particularly loved Circle of Friends, Tara Road and Evening Class.

jmisgro - I've read a lot of Keyes, but not the others. I'll have to check them out! Maybe they'll help me recover from missing Binchy.

Unknown said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. I adore Maeve Binchy books but haven't read one in a few years. I liked the idea of having a few waiting for me, knowing I could pick them up anytime I needed a good comfort read. It's awful that she died. Hard to believe she won't be publishing anymore of her enjoyable books.
Thanks for the great review.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Amy Meyer - I know, it's hard to realize you will soon run out of new books from an author you love.