Foster by Claire Keegan 2010

Having read Keegan’s recently Booker short-listed book ‘Small Things Like These’, I eagerly looked forward to reading her first novel, ‘Foster’.  My only mistake in doing so was that I failed to grab a handkerchief before I sat down to read this short novella in a single sitting.

Once again, we are transported by Keegan to rural Ireland sometime in recent years.  A young girl (we never do learn her name) is taken by her silent father to live with the Kinsellas on their farm by the sea while her mother completes a pregnancy adding another mouth to the four already at home.

The young girl is ill-groomed and poorly dressed, answers without politeness, wets her bed, and is in all other ways headed for a loveless and gray life. The Kinsellas, nursing a deep loss of their own, provide her with love, warmth, security, and hope in this touching and beautifully crafted book.

I won’t spoil the ending, but do suggest you bring a hankie to your reading chair.  This is a beautiful story told beautifuly by Keegan.  It originally appeared in an issue of The New Yorker and won several awards.  With Keegan’s new book short-listed for the Booker, it’s been reissued and I’m grateful for that.