From the author of the Booker-shortlisted Small Things Like These, a heartbreaking, haunting story of childhood, loss and love by one of Ireland’s most acclaimed writers.
It is a hot summer in rural Ireland. A girl is sent to live with foster parents on a farm, not knowing when she will return home. In the strangers’ house, she finds a warmth and affection she has not known before and slowly begins to blossom in their care. But in a house where there are meant to be no secrets, she discovers how fragile her idyll is.
This is the story of a young girl, who is the narrator, taken by her father to be fostered by a couple, the Kinsella’s, as her mother is soon to give birth. It begins with the drive to the Kinsella’s farm with her father. It seems that they are related on her mothers side but she was a baby when they last met and so has no recollection of it or them.
Her stay appears to be indefinite. The young girl seems wise beyond her years, she is about ten, and yet at the same time is also naive as children are.
She has a way of accepting what happens to her even when it’s not what she wants. As she settles in her confidence and acceptance of her new situation grows and she comes to like, even love, the Kinsella couple and they her.
The book is full of wonderful scenes bringing humour alongside an underlying deep sadness first detected when, having forgotten to leave her things when her father returns to her mother and siblings, she is dressed in clothes that the Kinsella couple already have. At at that moment the significance of this escapes her although all is revealed later.
When the young girl is brought home by the couple the possibilities of what could be if she was to remain with them as opposed to what in all likelihood will happen to her if she is with her family is not lost on this young soul. The final scenes of the book are perhaps a conundrum for the reader and this young girl, surely she is better off with her own family? And yet a life with the Kinsellas would be, could be – well, who knows? The final scenes are heartbreaking.
Claire Keegan writes beautifully and conveys so much. With no room for unnecessary words she brings life in rural Ireland alive through the eyes and mind of this young protagonist. It is a wonderful story and another of this author’s work that I have so very much enjoyed.
For the purposes of this read I used the link below, provided by our hosts, to read the original New Yorker version. I will be buying a copy of Foster by Claire Keegan because I have so enjoyed both stories I have read by her and I want a physical copy to go with my copy of Small Things Like These – and yes I shall certainly be looking to add more of her work to my shelves in the future.
Previously read: Small Things Like These
#NOVNOV2022 – BUDDY READ: Foster by Claire Keegan
Are you interested in #NovNov22? Rebecca of Bookish Beck and Cathy at 746Books are co-hosting Novellas in November as a month-long challenge with four weekly prompts. There is a ‘buddy read’ feature this year for which Foster by Claire Keegan has been chosen. You can pop to their blog using the links above or check it out on my blog.
Week 1: I managed to read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys which I will share my thoughts on by the end of November.
Weeks 2 & 3: Under the Snow by Kirstin Ekman (Trans. Joan Tate) read, post to follow | God and Caesar by Shirley Williams – reading.
Week 4: Foster by Claire Keegan, The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (posted) | The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (posted)| Every Trick in the Book by Iain Hood and The Hermit by Louise Walters. (I will read and post on each of these asap).
Published: Faber & Faber; First Edition (2010); Main edition (18 Aug. 2022) | 96 pages | Keegan’s novella was originally a New Yorker short story (Issue: 15 Feb., 2010). Winner of the Davy Byrnes Memorial Prize, Foster is now published in a revised and expanded version.
Author: Claire Keegan was born in 1968 and grew up on a farm in Wicklow. Her first collection of short stories, Antarctica, was completed in 1998. It announced her as an exceptionally gifted and versatile writer of contemporary fiction and was awarded the Rooney Prize for Literature. Her second short story collection, Walk the Blue Fields, was published to enormous critical acclaim in 2007 and won her the 2008 Edge Hill Prize for Short Stories. Claire Keegan lives in County Wexford, Ireland.
Her stories are translated into 30 languages and have won numerous accolades.
Antarctica won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. \ Walk the Blue Fields won the Edge Hill Prize, awarded to the finest collection of stories published in the British Isles. | Foster won the Davy Byrnes Award and was last year chosen by The Times as one of the top 50 works of fiction to be published in the 21st century. | Small Things Like These was shortlisted for the 2022 Rathbones Folio Prize. It won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2022.
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