Reading a Maeve Binchy book is like sitting down with a cup of tea and some old friends in a quaint little sidewalk cafe. It is watching the world go by and knowing that everyone you see has a story. Heart and Soul is quintessential Binchy. The novel opens as Clara Casey takes the job as director of St. Brigid's new heart clinic. As she staffs the clinic we get to meet all the main characters of the book, many of whom have appeared in Binchy's previous books. There is Fiona, a nurse whom we met in Nights of Rain and Stars, Brenda from Quentins and the Feathers from Scarlet Feather. Dr. Declan Carroll signs on as the cardiologist for the clinic and Ania, a Polish immigrant trying to start anew after her life is turned upside down, is hired to provide support where needed. We also get glimpses into the lives of Clara's daughters, Linda and Adi.
The lives of all these characters intersect and merge as Binchy weaves her tale of life in Dublin. It is a story of love, hurt, joys and of course, sorrow and tragedy. We witness self-proclaimed aristocrats treat Ania as nothing more than a servant as she and their son Carl grow closer together. Our hearts ache for Father Bryan Flynn as he tries to defend his reputation from hurtful accusations. Through her writing Binchy makes us care about these people. They are her friends and we come to think of them as ours.
The read is a fast one, but one that is also to be savored. Upon completion, you are filled with a sense of literary satisfaction much as that cup of tea satisfies that need for comfort in a hectic world.