Plot synopsis? I'm afraid that I find it quite impossible to sum up any of Maeve Binchy's novels in a few short sentences. What is the book about? The more appropriate question would be what the book is not about. Binchy's ability to artfully weave together many separate and diverse stories with one common thread is really astounding. In Heart and Soul the connector and unifier is a heart clinic in Dublin set up to help people with heart disease manage their disease, and to learn how to live as healthily and long as possible. All of the serpentine stories in the book revolve around this clinic.
One of the things I love about Maeve Binchy's novels is how she brings people from her previous novels back into existence as minor characters. I always want to know what happens to characters I come to know and love once the book is over. And she has the ability to show them through a different perspective where they somehow appear the same, and yet other aspects of their character are explored. The only time I find this a bit distracting is when I have not read the book which first introduced the characters, and people are talked about who do not really appear in this story, and have no real meaning to me.
Another aspect of Binchy's writing which I find quite remarkable is her ability to show just what should be shown. In a few short commonplace words, even mundane task, she is able to perfectly paint a picture of character and setting. Her grasp and understanding of human nature is incredible. This through what she shows of people, and how well she knows her readers. Life. That is what her novels are. Life with all of it's heartache, humor and joy. And always she leaves you with a feeling of hope and joy.