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HEART AND SOUL by Maeve Binchy

HEART AND SOUL

By Maeve Binchy

Pub Date: March 2nd, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-307-26579-1
Publisher: Knopf

A Dublin heart clinic, full of romantic and family crises in need of healing, provides the apt setting for Binchy’s latest (Whitethorn Woods, 2007, etc.).

St. Brigid’s Hospital opens a cardiac clinic over the fiscal objections of administrator Frank Ennis. Directing the clinic isn’t the big job Dr. Clara Casey wanted, and her mood isn’t improved when long-estranged husband Alan turns up to say his girlfriend is pregnant and he wants a divorce. But soon Clara is enthusiastically involved in redecorating and hiring a crack staff, whose lives intertwine with those of the clinic’s patients in the familiar Binchy landscape of overlapping stories. Young Dr. Declan and Nurse Fiona fall in love. Impoverished but multitalented aide Ania falls for Carl, whose father is an elderly patient. Ania also helps physical therapist Johnny’s friend Father Flynn avoid an unmerited scandal; Binchy fans will enjoy the cameo appearances by this benevolent priest and numerous other characters from earlier books. Clara finally begins divorce proceedings against Alan and becomes romantically involved with a goodhearted, penny-pinching pharmacist. Clara’s assistant Hilary, who can’t bear to put a beloved but failing parent into a home, blames herself when her mother wanders off and is hit by a car. At the clinic’s big fundraiser, Clara and still-shaky Hilary plot to match Clara’s aimless daughter with Hilary’s musician son. Meanwhile, Carl’s snobbish mother attempts to drive a wedge between him and Ania, but he stands up to her. Declan’s engagement to Fiona is tested when Fiona gets cold feet, but Declan’s patience is rewarded. By the time we get to their wedding at Father Flynn’s social center for immigrants, most of the singles have happily coupled off. Even Clara and her archenemy Frank dance the night away. Part of the fun is guessing who will show up in the next book.

Binchy has her formula down pat, and only a curmudgeon could resist this master of cheerful, read-by-the-fire comfort.