Heart and Soul

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 July, 2009, 12:00am

Heart and Soul

by Maeve Binchy



The world has finally caught up with Maeve Binchy. The Irish novelist's brand of meaty, optimistic and unabashedly enjoyable writing is the biggest news since Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve upgraded her template for the 21st century. In Heart and Soul, Binchy checks into that staple of romance writers: the medical drama. But this story of love in a sterilised elevator comes with brains and brawn. True, it has at its heart a mismatched couple worthy of a classic screwball. Frank Ennis is a financial wizard and sexist pig who is trying to get St Brigid's Hospital on its feet again. When a nun suggests a woman saviour might be just the ticket, he sighs. 'God - I'd forgotten the women.' It almost goes without saying then that a woman is exactly what is needed - and, in the shapely 40-something form of Clara Casey, a sharp, independent woman at that. As the pair joust through the next 500-plus pages, all sorts of sub-plots watch from the grandstand: Clara's daughters falling in and out of trouble; her ex-husband raising his ugly head; and Ania, a Polish immigrant, trying to forget the boy she left behind. Summer is here and the time is right for Binchy on the beach.