Heart and Soul

Heart and Soul

3.9 228
by Maeve Binchy
     
 

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With the warmth, humor, and compassion we have come to expect, Maeve Binchy tells a story of  doctors and staff, patients, family, and friends at a heart clinic in a community caught between the old Ireland and the new.
 
Dr. Clara Casey agrees to take on the seemingly thankless task of establishing a clinic with little funding—for a year. With

Overview

With the warmth, humor, and compassion we have come to expect, Maeve Binchy tells a story of  doctors and staff, patients, family, and friends at a heart clinic in a community caught between the old Ireland and the new.
 
Dr. Clara Casey agrees to take on the seemingly thankless task of establishing a clinic with little funding—for a year. With her own plate full—two troublesome grown daughters and a needy ex-husband—she is still able to gather a wonderfully diverse and dedicated staff. And before long she has done the impossible, made the clinic a success and a aprt of the community. Now Clara must decide whether or not to stay.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Good-hearted [and] entertaining . . . [Heart and Soul] reflects a pervasive generosity of spirit [and] offers many honest pleasures." –The Washington Post

"Sweet indulgence. . . . Heart and Soul is a delicious delight." –Las Vegas Review-Journal

"Heart and Soul is a pleasant escape into an entertaining fantasy world across the ocean. . . . [Binchy] once again paints a delightful picture of Ireland that elevates the everyday joys and tragedies of her characters to ones of pure romance." –Woodbury Magazine

“A new Maeve Binchy novel is always welcome. . . . Binchy has a true gift of creating characters we either know or wish we knew . . . Heart and Soul creates a perfect escape.” –The Plain Dealer

“At the end of a long week, a long winter, a long economic downturn, [Maeve Binchy’s Heart and Soul is] exactly what we need.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Warm and comfy. . . . Reading Heart and Soul is not unlike getting a hug from your mother.” –The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"Oh, the bliss. . . . Maeve's back, on top form." –The Times (London)

"[Maeve Binchy] knows how to fashion a minor drama into a crisis, and the book rattles along from one gripping story to another, leaving the reader with a satisfying glow. . . . It does exactly what it says on the tin: gives heart and soul." –Daily Mail

"[Heart and Soul] brings together the secret hopes and dreams of a disparate group of characters . . . with [Binchy's] trademark warmth and empathy." –Irish Sunday Independent

"Maeve Binchy's latest novel is packed as usual with wonderful characters. . . . Full of warmth, caring and commonsense." –CHOICE

Bill Sheehan
Binchy is adept at juggling multiple story lines and creating genuine drama out of the quotidian problems of life: illness, accidents, misunderstandings, romantic and sexual betrayal. Her work reflects a pervasive generosity of spirit and projects a reassuring quality that is, I think, a central element of her enduring popularity…this good-hearted…novel offers many honest pleasures and deserves the success it will no doubt achieve.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Binchy delivers another delightful Binchyesque amalgamation of intersecting lives, this time centering on Clara Casey, a cardiologist whose marriage and career have fallen apart. After she accepts an undesirable post at St. Brigid's Hospital, Clara throws herself into work to forget the humiliation of her husband's many affairs, but it's difficult to escape her home life with two adult daughters who still depend on her as if they were children. Though she stands at the center of the book, Clara cedes the stage to others, such as Declan Carroll, a young doctor at the clinic trying to make a life for himself, and Ania, Clara's assistant, whose affair with a married man forced her to leave her Polish hometown. Beautiful, hardworking and humble, Ania attracts the attention of Carl Walsh, the son of one of the clinic's patients. And so it goes in this novel of intersecting lives that keeps daily drama interesting even when it occasionally sacrifices suspense for realism. In spite of a few dull moments, the collective, charming effect of these story lines suggests that individuals are more connected than they might think. (Mar.)

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Library Journal

The newly hired director of a cardiac-care center, Dr. Clara Casey is a strong character, who with great humor and panache manages life as a female medical professional and the single mother of two daughters. Crossing paths in the clinic or via clinic staff are Nora and Aidan Dunne, Father Bryan Flynn, Tom and Cathy Feather, and twins Simon and Maud, among others from various earlier Binchy novels (e.g., Evening Class). In keeping with tradition, several important dinners take place at Quentins restaurant. A nurse in Clara's clinic, Fiona Ryan has rebounded from the disastrous relationship portrayed in Nights of Rain and Stars, and a hard-working Polish immigrant named Ania overcomes her past and blossoms in her adopted country. The novel ranges far and wide, following some recurring characters to Greece, and it is always a comfort to catch up with familiar faces and meet new friends. Binchy fills the book with people finding true love, discovering their niche in life, and taking full advantage of second chances. Binchy's numerous fans will seek this out. [See Prepub Alert, LJ10/1/08.]
—Beth Lindsay

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307278425
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/23/2010
Pages:
576
Sales rank:
257,489
Product dimensions:
4.32(w) x 6.88(h) x 1.21(d)

Read an Excerpt

Mountainview, despite its pleasant name, was one of the tough areas of Dublin. Some of the big estates were home to drug dealers and it wasn't a place to walk alone at night. The school had its ups and downs, but it was lucky enough to have a headmaster, Tony O'Brien, who could deal with toughness head-on.Some of the older teachers found the change difficult. Things used to be different. The place had been shabby but they'd had respect. The children came from homes where money was short, but they were all keen to make something of themselves. Today they only cared about money, and if someone's big brother was driving a smart car and wearing an expensive leather jacket, it was hard to get interested in having a job in a bank or an office where you might never make enough to have your own house or car and a leather jacket was just a dream. No wonder so many of them joined gangs. And as for respect?Aidan Dunne told his wife, Nora, all about it.Big fellows would push past you in the corridor and sort of nudge the books out of your hand. Then they would laugh and say that sir must be losing his grip. Aidan remembered when they would rush to pick up the books. Not now. Now they called him Baldy, or asked him if he remembered the First World War.It was the same with the women teachers. If they weren't married, some of the really rough fellows would ask them were they frigid or lesbian. If they were married, they would ask them how many times a night did they do it.“And what do you say?” Nora wondered.“I try to ignore them. I tell myself that they're only insecure kids like always—it's just they have a different way of expressing it. Still, it doesn't make the day's work any easier.”“And how do the women cope?”“The younger ones are on top of it, they say things like, 'Oh, you'd never be able to satisfy me like my old man does,' or else that, sure, they are gay because the only alternative is horrible spotty boys with filthy fingernails.” Aidan shook his head. “By the time I get to the classroom I'm worn out,” he said sadly.“Why don't you give it up?” Nora said suddenly. She taught Italian at an evening class and organized a yearly outing to Italy for the group. She had several other small jobs, but she had no interest in money or pensions or the future. She sat in one of the basket chairs she had bought at a garage sale and tried to persuade Aidan to join her in this carefree lifestyle.But he was a worrier. It would be idiotic to leave his school now several years before retirement date. It would mean no proper pension; if he were to amount to anything he had to provide for Nora and his family from an earlier marriage.“Oh, you've well provided for them,” Nora said cheerfully.“You've given Nell most of the money you got for the house, Grania is married to the headmaster of Mountainview School, Brigid has been made a partner in the travel agency. They should be providing for you, if you come to think of it.”“But you, Nora, what about you? I want to look after you, give you some comfort and pleasures.”“You give me great comfort and pleasures,” she said.“But some security, Nora,” he pleaded.“I never had security before, I don't want it now.”“I have to finish out my time there.”“Not if you don't like it. What about this lovely life we promised each other and we have mainly had?”“It depends on my having a good safe job, Nora,” he said.“No—it doesn't. Not if it's making you worry, and panic about these louts. We don't need it, Aidan. Not if it's affecting your health.”“It's not affecting my health,” Aidan said firmly.A week later Aidan and Nora were in one of their favorite secondhand bookshops; they were each browsing separately when she suddenly looked over at him. His hand was at his throat and he seemed to be having difficulty catching his breath.“Aidan?” she called.“Sorry, is it very stuffy in here?”“No, indeed—there's a lazy wind coming in from the canal.”“A lazy wind?” he asked distractedly.“You know—a wind that doesn't bother to make the time to go round you so it goes through you . . .” Nora smiled.He didn't smile back.She was alarmed now. “Is there something wrong?”“I don't seem to be able to breathe in,” he said. “Oh, Nora, dear Nora, I hope that I'm not going to faint or anything.”“No, of course you're not. Just sit down there.” She was brisk and practical. First, she spoke to the shop owner.“Where's the nearest hospital?” she asked.“St. Brigid's. Is there a problem?”“I think my husband is having some kind of seizure. Taxi rank?”“Don't bother. I'll drive you,” he said.Nora didn't question it. There would be time to thank him later.“Right, Aidan, Dara is giving us a lift,” she said.“Where to?” he gasped.“To somewhere that will help you breathe properly, my darling,” she said.And he closed his eyes in relief.At the A&E in St. Brigid's the nurses moved him wordlessly into a cubicle. They had given him oxygen and the house doctor had been called.“Take off his trousers,” the doctor said.“What?” Nora was taken aback.“Please, madam.” The Chinese doctor was very courteous. “His lungs are flooded, we need to drain the liquid from him, we have to put him on a catheter . . .”Nora explained this to Aidan.“That's extraordinary—I don't feel as if I need to go to the loo at all,” he said.The oxygen was helping. He was much calmer. Nora looked at a huge container and saw it filling up with what looked like gallons of fluid.“How could that happen?” she asked.“The heart is failing to pump,” the Chinese doctor explained.“He is in heart failure at the moment.”Nora felt all the strength leave her body. The good, kind man that she adored and who loved her too had a heart that had failed him. Life as they knew it was over.In about an hour Aidan felt so much better he was ready to come home. He was surprised when he heard that they were getting a bed for him in St. Brigid's.“But I'm perfectly fine now,” he protested.Nora went home for his pajamas, dressing gown and a sponge bag. She remained calm and reassuring on the outside, but inside she felt that she had lost the will to live.The next few days passed in a blur: visits from teams of senior doctors, their younger assistants with clipboards, nurses, carers, cleaners, trolleys of food. Visitors coming in with anxious faces. And among them was Nora Dunne, tall, wild-eyed, her long red hair with its gray streaks tied back with a black ribbon.She sat beside Aidan's bed and they played chess happily together. If people had been watching them closely they would have noticed that they never talked about household things, bills, repairs, shopping. They didn't talk about neighbors or family or friends. They just lived for each other. And if people had been watching very carefully they would have realized that Nora was behaving like a robot. She was keeping the show on the road for Aidan.When he was discharged after a week they talked to him seriously about levels of stress in his life. When he told them about life up at the school, the cardiologist advised him to give up the job. Aidan wouldn't even consider discussing it. He would take his medication, he would take long rests each day. But he would not give up his job. It was the only thing he had to offer his wife, some stability. He had not been a good provider. There had been other calls on his finances. A previous family. No, in all honor he had to stay on until his pension was assured.The medical team spoke to Nora too and found her hard to fathom. Over and over she said she wasn't remotely interested in possessions or pensions. They lived in a small and simple rented flat. She could easily go out to work and make the rent. Their needs were not great.“So will you encourage him to retire?” the cardiologist suggested.“No, not if he doesn't want to, Doctor. Why should I stand between him and what he wants to do? Aidan always loved teaching. He would feel such a failure if we took him out of that school.”“Could he not teach at home? Give private tuition, maybe?”“No. Aidan doesn't approve of people having to pay for extra education. We couldn't ask him to go against his principles.”“But you are such a strong personality, Mrs. Dunne. I am sure that you could persuade him.”“I'm sure I could if I tried—but it would not be honest to make him give up what he truly wants to do.”“Even if it's killing him?”“But he's going to die anyway, isn't he?”“We all are, but with care he has plenty of life left.”Nora's face was still empty. “A life of fear and anxiety and thinking that choking will return.”“We can help him make sure that it doesn't. As sure as can be.”“Which isn't totally sure, is it?” Her voice was hard.“No, no more than we can be sure that you won't both be hit by a bus on your way home. But we have a very good record in keeping people alive and well and in normal life after a heart attack. Your husband will be in that number. We have referred him to a heart failure clinic which he will have to attend regularly. It's a heart clinic attached to this hospital. Patients go there to be monitored, to have blood tests, check their medication.”“And why do you call it heart failure?”“Because that's what their hearts are doing: failing to work at the optimum levels.”“And Aidan has to come here every week, is that it?”“To start with, yes. Then as he progresses, less often. He will findit a great reassurance.”Nora was silent.“Truly he will, Mrs. Dunne. All our research has shown that it makes people much more confident and positive, which is exactly what they need at this time.”“And is it funded by a drug company? Do they do experiments on the patients?”“Absolutely not. It is operated under the aegis of this hospital and we are very proud of it.” He bristled with resentment at her suspicions.“I'm sorry, Doctor. To you Aidan is a patient you are looking after. To me he is my whole life. I'm not thinking straight.”“He will need you to think straight now more than ever before,” the doctor said. Clearly, this woman had to be brought on board.“Go to the heart clinic with him, get to know the people there; you may both get a lot from it.”For the first time, the tight, pained look left Nora Dunne's face.She was a handsome woman, the doctor realized.“We'll give it a chance,” she said with a hint of a smile.Excerpted from HEART AND SOUL by Maeve Binchy Copyright © 2009 by Maeve Binchy. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

From the Hardcover edition.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Good-hearted [and] entertaining . . . [Heart and Soul] reflects a pervasive generosity of spirit [and] offers many honest pleasures." –The Washington Post

"Sweet indulgence. . . . Heart and Soul is a delicious delight." –Las Vegas Review-Journal

"Heart and Soul is a pleasant escape into an entertaining fantasy world across the ocean. . . . [Binchy] once again paints a delightful picture of Ireland that elevates the everyday joys and tragedies of her characters to ones of pure romance." –Woodbury Magazine

“A new Maeve Binchy novel is always welcome. . . . Binchy has a true gift of creating characters we either know or wish we knew . . . Heart and Soul creates a perfect escape.” –The Plain Dealer

“At the end of a long week, a long winter, a long economic downturn, [Maeve Binchy’s Heart and Soul is] exactly what we need.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Warm and comfy. . . . Reading Heart and Soul is not unlike getting a hug from your mother.” –The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"Oh, the bliss. . . . Maeve's back, on top form." –The Times (London)

"[Maeve Binchy] knows how to fashion a minor drama into a crisis, and the book rattles along from one gripping story to another, leaving the reader with a satisfying glow. . . . It does exactly what it says on the tin: gives heart and soul." –Daily Mail

"[Heart and Soul] brings together the secret hopes and dreams of a disparate group of characters . . . with [Binchy's] trademark warmth and empathy." –Irish Sunday Independent

"Maeve Binchy's latest novel is packed as usual with wonderful characters. . . . Full of warmth, caring and commonsense." –CHOICE

Meet the Author

Maeve Binchy is the author of numerous best-selling books, including her most recent novel, Whitethorn Woods, in addition to Nights of Rain and Stars, Quentins, Scarlet Feather, Circle of Friends, and Tara Road, which was an Oprah Book Club selection. She has written for Gourmet; O, The Oprah Magazine; and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. She and her husband, Gordon Snell, live in Dalkey, Ireland, and London.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Dublin, Ireland, and London, England
Date of Birth:
May 28, 1940
Place of Birth:
Dalkey, a small village outside Dublin, Ireland
Education:
Holy Child Convent in Killiney; B.A. in history, University College, Dublin, 1960

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Heart and Soul 3.9 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 228 reviews.
timetraveler-1692- More than 1 year ago
Wow, another great read from Maeve Binchy, filled with love, compassion, suspence, and yes, even intrigue, set in a heart clinic in today's Ireland. When Dr. Clara Casey is offered the job of establishing the underfunded clinic she almost turns it down since she has enough on her plate as it is, namely an ex-husband who won't leave her alone, and two recalcitrant daughters who won't grow up. But reluctantly she accepts the challenge and to her surprise both she and the cliic survive and prosper, due in great part to a devoted cast of characters who help her meet the demands of their often difficult patients with both humor and understanding. One can't help being touched by sweet Ania, the little Polish girl, whose heart was broen by a cad but finds love again, or cheer the romance of nice Dr. Declan and the beautirul Fiona, or laugh at the antics of the fantastically talented twins, Maud and Simon, who not only cook but finish each other's sentences. These are just a few of the marvelously diverse characters who people this enchanting book and make you laugh, cry, and care. Maeve Binch at her best.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Cardiologist Dr. Clara Casey knows how far she has fallen from grace with her new position as the head of t St. Brigid¿s Hospital. She agreed to a one year stint at the always in financial need clinic while trying to resuscitate her medical career. She does no care about revising her dead marriage as she knows it collapsed due to her cheating spouse¿s wandering penis. She also has two adult daughters who are demanding and spoiled and her ex keeps sniffing around her.

Clara plans to do the best she can at St. Brigid¿s and ignore her family as much as possible. She finds her staff hardworking and cheerful in spite of lousy hours, crappy pay, and fractious patients. Her Polish assistant Ania is bright and hardworking although Clara knows if she had been in Ireland she could have been one of her former husband¿s trophies. Instead she is an indispensable addition to the staff. Nurse Fiona Ryan brings professional care taking to the patients having moved past her personal disaster of NIGHTS OF RAIN AND STARS. Outside the clinic Clara meets friendly people especially at a local restaurant. Clara is having the time of her life and considers extending her stay though her daughters and her ex object; like they have a vote on her life.

The fascination with this fine entry by Maeve Binchy is that the star of the story line Clara is off page more often than not as the spotlight is frequently on the support cast in and out of the hospital; the amazement is how well the plot stays focused even meandering to other countries. The cast is strong as always and their lives interweave in a much more complex convoluted intricacies that make the DNA matrix look like a preschool puzzle. With the return of characters like the nurse from previous novels, fans of Ms. Binchy will have a wonderful time reading her latest multifaceted look at relationships.

Harriet Klausner
LCH47 More than 1 year ago
There's something comforting about Maeve Binchy's books, a treat to savor and relish, lovely, compelling, warm and heart-warming. The charm lies is the characters. All are created so that we can empathize with their every day troubles and disappointments and share their joy at their triumphs. We genuinely care about the wonderful characters. Clara, the lead protagonist, is a woman frustrated by having missed out on what she thought would be her defining professional opportunity. She agrees to set up and run the under-funded St. Brigid's Heart Clinic for 12 months and in doing so gathers around her new and interesting characters. She encounters personal problems, Alan, who is asking her for a divorce so he can marry his child girlfriend, her adult daughters, Adi and Linda, who are having their own problems settling down and so on. This is a charming blend of laughter and tears full of "Heart and Soul" and wonderful, interesting characters. I RECOMMEND!
Jen_in_Kentucky More than 1 year ago
This book was a great culmination of her former books. What fun to read through and see the characters from previous books brought into this story. This is a great book for readers who have read her other works!
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
Just when you think you¿ll never find another good book, one to comfort you when you are tired and stressed out, one to remind you that life is full of wonderful surprises, and one that introduces you to people you will love like they are your own best friends, Maeve Binchy rescues you with another fabulous novel. If you are already a fan of Maeve Binchy then you will find Heart and Soul is everything you have come to expect in her books. If this is your first introduction to her, you will soon find yourself racing out to gather all her books, and what a treat you are in for!
As I fully expected, I loved Heart and Soul. It is full of quirky, loveable, interesting characters. The plot is surprising, often going in directions I hadn¿t expected, yet always yielding satisfying conclusions. Many characters from her previous books make appearances and some even have starring roles. It was great to catch up with some of my old friends! I can¿t recommend Heart and Soul highly enough!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Characters from other stories are re-visited. Felt like returning to a place and characters you fell in love with and making some new friends. An enjoyable book, a quick read
gm37 More than 1 year ago
I have read most of Maeve Binchy's books and haven't been disappointed an any one of them. Love it when I can find one I haven't read yet.
Middlesis More than 1 year ago
I read about three quarters of this book and put it down. I'm not sure I'll finish it unless I get a renewed spirt of interest. This is the second book by this author and I didn't care for the other one so I'll probably not purchase anymore.
libramama More than 1 year ago
She's loaded this up with cutesy, hardly-believable characters and way too many subplots. I'm done with Maeve. Enjoyed her in the past, but no longer.
MissLouise More than 1 year ago
With the US health care raging in the background, and everyone saying how it will be awful it we have to be like the "other"countries, it was a heartwarming and reassuring to see the "other" countries DO take care of their population also. Important health care issues, provider issues, family issues dealing with those with a heath care disability and even illness forcing life change issues are all encompassed in this story. Thrown in this story are also life as a single working parent, teenagers and health care politics, making it a very timely and wonderful read.
adunlea More than 1 year ago
Heart and Soul is a new paperback by Maeve Binchy. It is published by Orion and its ISBN is 1409102319. Maeve Binchy is my favourite author so my expectations were very high and I was not disappointed. She makes something complex look very easy and that is her great skill and strength. She writes of ordinary people with ordinary problems in a compassionate and easy to read fashion. Somehow their lives interweave to make the tale complete. Occasionally she reintroduces old characters into her novels and she has done that here with great ease. This tale is all heart and appropriately it is set in a Dublin heart clinic. The novel is mainly about the first year of St. Brigid's heart clinic. Dr. Clara Casey initially takes on the role as head of cardiology for a year and she sets about acquiring competent and cheerful staff. Soon the clinic becomes an integral part of the community and a symbol of hope. The story examines Dr. Casey's hectic life, her staffs lives and their patients and their interactions with one another and of course their romances. This is not a sad tale of illness but a story of hope and managing cardiac illness to live a fulfilled life. Reviewed by Annette Dunlea author of The Honey Trap and Always and Forever
ZZCZ More than 1 year ago
A lovely story and read, especially on a rainy, cold day. Lots of characters, but they are well developed and not too difficult to follow. Ms. Binchy's story shows the changing face of Ireland and the difficulties and opportunities that represents. The main plot is still the basis of life through the ages, finding, developing and keeping meaninful relationships and a purpose in life. Her writing reminds me of my favorite author Roseamund Pilchner of Scotland.
Mrrigsby More than 1 year ago
New characters and old friends appear in this story and each of them comes to life in Ms. Binchy's unforgetable style. It's like getting a news letter from home. Loved every minute of it.
BookLoaner More than 1 year ago
This was one of Maeve Binchy's best. The blending of characters from previous books made the reader feel like a walk down "memory lane." The story was riveting from the first page until the very end. If you want a book you literally can't put down, this is it.
sweet--pea More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the way she intermingled all the characters. She was able to write so you could keep the different characters straight and yet they went on with their daily life. I enjoyed the way she intertwined the lives of each of the main characters. There were some that had many faults and she was not afraid to bring these out... I liked the ending because it brought everyone together and finished the book up nicely. I would highly recommend this book as a good read to my friends
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was never much of a fan of Ms Binchy's books and this one does not bring me back into the fold. The characters in this story are paper thin, the plot line is predictable. I was hoping there would be more "Irishnish" in this book. The only book I ever enjoyed was the early "Tara Road"; since then this is boring.
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bayareagirl More than 1 year ago
Predictable pat and sappy. No conflict that isn't just quickly toed up with a sugary bow in a few pages. Focus please!  not all over the plots that you can imagine as a writer. Reminded me go a good fourth grade girl's idea of writing a story.  
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I just read 'minding frankie' and realized I had missed something along the way so went back and found this one, enjoyed it greatly, her writing can plod along at times or wander a bit but its kind of a gentle reminder to take a break and enjoy whats around me. Shes big on relationships and I love the strength of the obes she develops throughout each story. Declan was darling and I wanted to wrap him up and bring him home.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago