Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy

February 20, 2009
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Heart and Soul
Maeve Binchy

Knopf
2/20/09
Hardcover/418 pages
ISBN: 978-0-307265791
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www.amazon.com

 

 

". . . more than a novel, it is a hymn to the human spirit and the miracle of love."

Heart and Soul: A wonderful portrait of intertwined lives and loves.

Dr. Carla Casey is upset. Everything she has worked for has slipped through her fingers. She will not be the head of Cardiology at St. Brigid’s Hospital. Instead, she gets the thankless task of turning a storage depot into a recovery center for heart patients. At least she only signed on for a year. She prays it will be a short year.

To add insult to injury, her husband (“That Bastard Alan”) wants a divorce so he can marry Cinta, the pregnant younger woman he left her for. As if dealing with the hospital administrator Frank Ennis isn’t difficult enough, her daughter Linda has decided she wants to take a year off between graduating college and actually getting a job.

Carla attacks the heart center with enthusiasm, using every ounce of her skill and knowledge of hospital bureaucracy to remodel the depot into a facility. She hopes it will more than make up dealing with Frank Ennis and his small-minded tyranny. It is just one year out of her life. Carla is going to make the most of it.

Dublin, Ireland is a mix of entrenched ideas and modern attitudes. Maeve Binchy brings this cultural clash of people and ideology to life with passion and insight in Heart and Soul. These quirky and memorable characters, drawn from every social strata, are the embodiment of what happens when a stone in thrown into a still lake. The seemingly disparate lives and circumstances are affected by the simple action of opening a heart center.

The heart center is a model of modern thought and ingenuity. Binchy uses it to show the possibilities and effects of cutting through prejudice and fear. But it is the characters that made me sit up and take notice. From the staff at the center to the people’s lives they touch, Heart and Soul is the perfect example of what happens when people open themselves to change. Binchy’s simple and elegant prose is unobtrusive and a brilliant frame for the people populating this modern morality tale. Heart and Soul is much more than a novel—it is a hymn to the human spirit and the miracle of love.

 

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell

 

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