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Heart and Soul, by Maeve Binchy (Read by Sile Bermingham

"Grey's Anatomy" and the rest of the television doctor shows remind us that the medical professionals upon whom we depend in our times of stress and distress have outside lives that provide them with drama, also. In this warmly engaging book by Maeve Binchy, we meet the staff of St. Brigid's Hospital in Dublin, and unlike their American TV counterparts who seem to live only in the hospital or in the neighborhood bar, they invite us to observe their private lives outside of hospital. Dr. Clara Casey, head of the heart clinic, is charged not only with restoring excellence to an ailing facility, she is trying to recover from the devastation of divorce and its impact on her daughters. Ania, a seemingly helpless and innocent Polish immigrant, has secretly endured a life of tragedy and betrayal that would have destroyed anyone without her courage, strength and resourcefulness. Dr. Declan Carroll may be a respected presence in the cardiology clinic, but at home, he's dominated by an overprotective mother, making him feel like a child. The intersecting lives of nurses, patients, and other hospital inhabitants form the heart of this delightful audio book.

Maeve Binchy has an amazing gift of being able to create characters who drawn us into their daily triumphs and tribulations so that we feel we've found new best friends by the book's end. None of the stories is outlandish or extraordinary by itself, but the interconnection of all the dramas creates a story that is rich with anticipation and reward. In fact, she has the ability to make the simplest, most ordinary lives seem like the epitome of high drama. Sile Bermingham's skillful narration gives voice to both the Irish and Polish characters. She is adept at capturing and portraying both the haughty and meek, the timid and intrepid.

This audio book will speak to a wide range of listeners and each will take away a unique message. Some might find it restorative; some might find it motivational, but all will find it entertaining. Told with the warmth and humor one might find in a neighborhood Irish pub, Heart and Soul is a reminder that life might be tough, but it's worth whatever it takes to connect with people we love and who love us. Totally recommended.

Ruth Mormon

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