Heart and Soul is Maeve Binchy’s fifteenth novel, and my first taste of her work. It has torn to the top of the best-seller lists in Australia and Canada and is hurtling upward in the US and the UK. Having had my own work compared to Binchy (flattering for me, not so much for Ms. Binchy, I suspect), I had thought to find it more literary, more miserable, more dense, and less susceptible to the lure of the happy ending. Heart and Soul may be marked as novel but it is actually linked short stories set in and around a heart clinic in Ireland. Old-fashioned, chirpy, dialogue -heavy, it reminds me of those large-print books my grandmother loaned from the library, with their obvious pitch to entertainment and romance. I can’t decide if Binchy has a light touch or is light-weight. Like a good soap opera, her book was addictive. Still, I was concerned – not by Ms. Binchy who enjoys a loyal following (and how could you say anything derogative about an author who appears from her photo to be nicest human being ever to pick up a pen?) – but on my own abilities to give my work heft. Hmm.