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Rugged pathway

02 December 2008

Sarah Hillman on an uplifting tale

Heart and Soul
Maeve Binchy

Orion Books £18.99 (978-0-7528-7336-7)
Church Times Bookshop £17.10

CLARA CASEY has agreed to take on the setting up and running of a new heart clinic for a year. Her own fam­ily life is turbulent, with two adult daughters who seem to be re­living their teenage years now that they are in their twenties, and an ex-husband who is making demands on her.

At the heart clinic, the reader meets a host of other characters, such as Ania, the young Polish woman who fled to England with a broken heart, and Declan, a young doctor at the clinic, who charms everybody, but has problems when he suffers an accident. Hilary is struggling to come to terms with her mother’s dementia, and the parish priest, Fr Flynn, has his own problems with a stalker. Then there are the patients, each with good and bad characteristics, but all facing their own struggles.

No one in the book has an entirely straightforward life. But this is not a depressing tale. Many of the characters are likeable, and the story is told in an uplifting way, as Binchy charts the highs and lows of life. And, of course, as always with this author, love is a dominant theme.

If you have read other books by Maeve Binchy, you will recognise some of the places and characters, but she has written in such a way as not to hinder your enjoyment if you have not read her before.

Although the book has about 450 pages, this is a quick read — a gentle and undemanding story of the lives of a group of people which become intertwined.

The Revd Sarah Hillman is Priest-in-Charge of Barkway, Reed and Buckland with Barley, Herts.

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