Foster by Claire Keegan @CKeeganFiction #LiteraryFiction #IrishFiction #BookTwitter #TuesdayBookBlog

415JZry4LTL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Author: Claire Keegan

Published: August 2022 by Faber & Faber

Category: Novella, Literary Fiction, Irish Fiction


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 novella is deceptive in its seeming simplicity and succinctness, and  packs an emotional punch. It’s told in the first person by an unnamed young girl who is sent to live with relatives because her mother is pregnant yet again and the impoverished family is struggling to cope. The girl has known nothing but hardship, has no idea what to expect in her new home but is observant and quick to pick up on nuances. 

John and Edna Kinsella have no living child of their own and life with them couldn’t be more different than at home. The girl finds she enjoys being fussed over, getting new clothes and learning things. There’s kindness and affection, things that were seemingly non-existent in her life previously.

When Mrs Kinsella comes out, she pays no heed to the men. She is even taller than my mother with the same black hair but hers is cut tight like a helmet. She’s wearing a printed blouse and brown, flared trousers. The car door is opened and I am taken out, and kissed. My face, being kissed, turns hot against hers.

Small details of everyday life speak volumes without being put into words as relationships are forged, and the girl starts to blossom under the Kinsellas’ warmth and caring natures. She begins to realise what it feels like to be loved and know there are no punishments. Much is hinted at, left to the imagination and to be read between the lines.

Foster is beautifully and confidently written, the prose is evocative, poignant and moving, with wonderfully atmospheric imagery. The conclusion is open ended but no less affecting for that, perhaps even more so. Claire Keegan is an incredible storyteller to be able to say so much in such a short book. I loved Small Things Like These too, and look forward to Claire Keegan’s next book.

I listened to the audiobook which was superbly narrated by Aoife McMahon, who gave each of the characters their own distinct voices and brought them to vivid life.

As soon as he takes it, I realise my father has never once held my hand, and some part of me wants Kinsella to let me go so I won’t have to feel this. It’s a hard feeling but as we walk along I begin to settle and let the difference between my life at home and the one I have here be.


Claire KeeganClaire Keegan was born in Wexford in 1968.
Her story collections are Antarctica (London, Faber and Faber, 1999/New York, Grove/Atlantic, 1999); Walk the Blue Fields (Faber and Faber, 2007/ Grove Press, Black Cat, 2008); and the single story Foster (Faber and Faber, 2010).
Her awards include The Francis MacManus Award; The William Trevor Prize; the Olive Cook Award; the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year; the Rooney Prize for Literature, and Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award 2009, judged by Richard Ford.
A member of Aosdána, she lives in Co. Wexford.

Author links ~ Website | Twitter | Facebook 

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