Wednesday 28 November 2018

Book Review: Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy

Last Updated: 6 September 2021

Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy book cover

Clara Casey has more than enough on her plate. Her daughters Adi and Linda were no problem during the usually turbulent teens. Now Adi is always fighting for or against something: the environment or the whale or battery farming; while Linda lurches from one unsatisfactory relationship to the next. As if this wasn't enough, Clara, a senior cardiac specialist, has a new job to cope with - and now her ex-husband wants something from her...

For Ania, meeting Clara Casey is a miracle. She never intended to leave Poland - but perhaps a new job in a new country will mend her broken heart? Declan is looking forward to joining the clinic - but what should have been a straightforward six-month posting brings him far more than he expected.

Then there's Father Brian Flynn, whose life is turned upside down when his reputation is threatened; and the beautiful, cheerful nurse, Fiona, who can't leave her troubled past behind...

Irish author Maeve Binchy wrote the kind of books that were light and easy to read, yet still deeply interesting and involving. Perhaps that is why her work has been read and loved by readers around the world for decades, putting her firmly in the spotlight as a bestselling author.

I was first introduced to Maeve Binchy by my mum, who is a big fan of her work. I read The Glass Lake back in the summer of 2013, but until now, that was my only dabble in her writing. Funnily enough, Heart and Soul was actually recommended to me by another relative, so I took the advice and picked up a copy of the book, ready to take another foray into Binchy's world.

Heart and Soul centres around a newly-created heart clinic, a satellite centre from a Dublin hospital that is designed to keep heart patients happy, healthy, and out of the hospital. Our main cast of characters focuses on the clinic's staff - from well-groomed businesswoman Clara to kind Doctor Declan and Ania, the hardworking young Polish girl. Each character has a story to tell and more often than not, hidden secrets from their past that are fated to resurface as the stories interweave and old wounds reopen. 

The beautiful descriptions of Dublin paint a picture of a realistic Ireland - Binchy has no fear of holding back about the vast differences between the lives of the city's Eastern European workers and the wealthy upper-class residents. This brings the story into real terms and adds a new perspective to the character's tales - Binchy's Dublin is one that is culturally rich and diverse, with (almost) everyone willing to help one another out and support their friends. In fact, I think that this is a message we could all learn from today, wherever we are in the world.

Heart and Soul is a wonderful read and the perfect book to diversify my 2018 reading challenge!

Rating: 4 stars

Heart and Soul is available to buy now.

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Have you read any Maeve Binchy books? Let me know in the comments below!

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