Heart and Soul
With the insight, humor, and compassion we have come to expect from her, Maeve Binchy tells a story of family, friends, patients, and staff who are part of a heart clinic in a community caught between the old and the new Ireland.
Dr. Clara Casey has been offered the thankless job of establishing the underfunded clinic and agrees to take it on for a year. She has plenty on her plate already–two difficult adult daughters and the unwanted attentions of her ex-husband–but she assembles a wonderfully diverse staff devoted to helping their demanding, often difficult patients.
Before long the clinic is established as an essential part of the community, and Clara must decide whether or not to leave a place where lives are saved, courage is rewarded, and humor and optimism triumph over greed and self-pity. Heart and Soul is Maeve Binchy at her storytelling best.
More About Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy; Sile Bermingham
- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: Feb 2009
From the book
Mountainview, despite its pleasant name, was one of the tough areas of Dublin. Some of the big estates were home to drug dealers and it wasn't a place to walk alone at night. The school had its ups and downs, but it was lucky enough to have a headmaster, Tony O'Brien, who could deal with toughness head-on.Some of the older teachers found the change difficult. Things used to be different. The place had been shabby but they'd had respect. The children came from homes where money was short, but they were all keen to make something of themselves. Today they only cared about money, and if someone's big brother was driving a smart car and wearing an expensive leather jacket, it was hard to get interested in having a job in a bank or an office where you might never make enough to have your own house or car and a leather jacket was just a dream. No wonder so many of them joined gangs. And as for respect?Aidan Dunne told his wife, Nora, all about it.Big fellows would push past you in the corridor and sort of nudge the books out of your hand. Then they would laugh and say that sir must be losing his grip. Aidan remembered when they would rush to pick up the books. Not now. Now they called him Baldy, or asked him if he remembered the First World War.It was the same with the women teachers. If they weren't married, some of the really rough fellows would ask them were they frigid or lesbian. If they were married, they would ask them how many times a night did they do it."And what do you say?" Nora wondered."I try to ignore them. I tell myself that they're only insecure kids like always—it's just they have a different way of expressing it. Still, it doesn't make the day's work any easier.""And how do the women cope?""The younger ones are on top of it, they say things like, 'Oh, you'd never be able to satisfy me like my old man does,' or else that, sure, they are gay because the only alternative is horrible spotty boys with filthy fingernails." Aidan shook his head. "By the time I get to the classroom I'm worn out," he said sadly."Why don't you give it up?" Nora said suddenly. She taught Italian at an evening class and organized a yearly outing to Italy for the group. She had several other small jobs, but she had no interest in money or pensions or the future. She sat in one of the basket chairs she had bought at a garage sale and tried to persuade Aidan to join her in this carefree lifestyle.But he was a worrier. It would be idiotic to leave his school now several years before retirement date. It would mean no proper pension; if he were to amount to anything he had to provide for Nora and his family from an earlier marriage."Oh, you've well provided for them," Nora said cheerfully."You've given Nell most of the money you got for the house, Grania is married to the headmaster of Mountainview School, Brigid has been made a partner in the travel agency. They should be providing for you, if you come to think of it.""But you, Nora, what about you? I want to look after you, give you some comfort and pleasures.""You give me great comfort and pleasures," she said."But some security, Nora," he pleaded."I never had security before, I don't want it now.""I have to finish out my time there.""Not if you don't like it. What about this lovely life we promised each other and we have mainly had?""It depends on my having a good safe job, Nora," he said."No—it doesn't. Not if it's making you worry, and panic about these louts. We don't need it, Aidan. Not if it's affecting your health.""It's not affecting my health," Aidan said firmly.A week later Aidan and Nora were in one of their favorite secondhand bookshops; they were each browsing separately when she suddenly looked over at...
"A modern day women's writer in the Jane Austen sense." - Lauren Daley, The Standard-Times
"Sweet indulgence...Heart and Soul is a delicious delight." - Lindsey Losnedahl, Las Vegas Review-Journal
"Heart and Soul is a pleasant escape into an entertaining fantasy world across the ocean...[Binchy] once again paints a delightful picture of Ireland that elevates the everyday joys and tragedies of her characters to ones of pure romance." - Karin Greenberg, Woodbury Magazine
"A new Maeve Binchy novel is always welcome...Binchy has a true gift of creating characters we either know or wish we knew...Heart and Soul creates a perfect escape." - Michele Ross, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"At the end of a long week, a long winter, a long economic downturn, [Maeve Binchy's Heart and Soul is] exactly what we need." - Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Good-hearted [and] entertaining...[Heart and Soul] reflects a pervasive generosity of spirit [and] offers many honest pleasures." - Bill Sheehan, The Washington Post
"Another delightful Binchyesque amalgamation of intersecting lives...the collective, charming effect of these story lines suggests that individuals are more connected than they might think." - Publishers Weekly
"Only a curmudgeon could resist this master of cheerful, read-by-the-fire comfort." - Kirkus Reviews
"Interweaving the domestic narratives of a dissimilar collection of individuals is beloved Binchy's stock-in-trade, and once again, she does so with sublime ease, inventively engaging readers through a reassuring and persuasive combination of gracious warmth, gentle humor, and genuine affection." - Carol Haggas, Booklist
"Ambitious and intelligently conceived...A heart clinic is really the perfect metaphor for how this book feels. It's a warm and comfy world [and reading Heart and Soul is] not unlike getting a hug from your mother...Binchy's millions-strong readership...will not be disappointed." - William Kowalski, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
"Oh, the bliss...Maeve's back, on top form...The heart is the theme, literally and metaphorically, and this is heartwarming stuff--sweet but never cloying." - The Times
"[Maeve Binchy] knows how to fashion a minor drama into a crisis, and the book rattles along from one gripping story to another, leaving the reader with a satisfying glow...It does exactly what it says on the tin: gives heart and soul." - Daily Mail
"[Heart and Soul] brings together the secret hopes and dreams of a disparate group of characters...with [Binchy's] trademark warmth and empathy." - Irish Sunday Independent
"Maeve Binchy's latest novel is packed as usual with wonderful characters...Full of warmth, caring and commonsense." - CHOICE