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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.

** Adapted into the Oscar-nominated film adaptation, An Cail�n Ci�in / The Quiet Girl **

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.

'A real jewel.' Irish Independent

'A small miracle.' Sunday Times

'A thing of finely honed beauty.' Guardian

'Thrilling.' Richard Ford

'As good as Chekhov.' David Mitchell

88 pages, Paperback

First published February 10, 2010

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About the author

Claire Keegan

16 books1,736 followers
Claire 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.

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Profile Image for s.penkevich.
776 reviews5,367 followers
February 12, 2023
I feel at such a loss for words but this is a new place, and new words are needed.

I love when a novel is deceptively simplistic, seeming sparse on the surface but revealing intricacies of emotion and meaning the more you unpack each scene. In this case, you unpack a sucker punch of feelings straight to the heart and we are all better for it. Claire Keegan’s Foster is such a book, being taut and economical in Keegan’s pitch perfect prose but delivering an emotional resonance far surpassing its brief 80pgs. Originally published in 2010 in Ireland where it garnered awards and school curriculum reading, Foster has finally arrived on US shelves, no doubt aided by the success of her recent novella, Small Things Like These , which was nominated for the Booker Prize this year, and the film adaptation of this book. I found Foster to be even tighter and more succinct, which was to its benefit though Small Things was fantastic itself, and this novella manages to say so much in all the unsaid moments. Thriving through a story taking place beyond the grasp of the pre-teen girl who narrates the story, Foster is a tiny, bittersweet masterpiece that captures the aches and living and comforts of love all set against a lush Irish landscape.

“I try to remember another time when I felt like this and am sad because I can’t remember a time, and happy, too, because I cannot.

Foster is a simple enough story, a young girl is sent to live with distant relatives for a summer while her mother is pregnant with yet another child and the short time together builds a deep emotional resonance in the lives of the girl and the Kinsellas who take her in. While it is a tight and succinct novel, Keegan depicts gorgeous landscapes and has an ear for dialogue that brings this story to life and makes you feel like you are with them as they run to the Irish sea or play cards amidst the laughter of the night. While there are only a few passing scenes of domestic life—a shopping trip, life around the house doing chores together, walks through nature and a wake—a whole world of emotions explodes from every sentence, even if the narrator can’t quite corral them into words.

I have learned enough, grown enough, to know that what happened is not something I need ever mention.

There is a beauty in the way Foster exists most in awkward spaces, in the silences between words, the space between dark and light, or between understanding. ‘Everything changes into something else,’ the narrator observes, ‘turns into some version of what it was before,’ and we are met with frequent references to the world around her in moments of flux. This is a very loving household, though one that values both openness and knowing when words are not necessary. Mrs. Kinsella is upfront about this from the start: ‘‘Where there’s a secret,’ she says, ‘there’s shame – and shame is something we can do without.’’This seems to contrast with the narrator’s home life, one we are lead to assume has landed her here because the father drinks and gambles too much and they have too many mouths to feed than they can afford with another on the way. We also have Mr. Kinsella’s thoughts on not always needing to speak:
‘You don’t ever have to say anything,’ he says. ‘Always remember that as a thing you need never do. Many’s the man lost much just because he missed a perfect opportunity to say nothing.’

Better to be quiet than be a fool. Though this is also reflective of the novella itself and how so much understanding is in the unsaid. Much of this is built through the perspective of the narrative that is attempting to recount ‘things I don’t fully understand, things which may not even be intended for me,’ and written only through how she is able to comprehend the world around her. There are cute flourishes such as the narrator mentioning Mrs. Kinsella asking for ‘Aunt Acid’ at the pharmacist (presumably antacid) and other misreadings that no attention is called to and brings the narrative voice alive. It is a massive success and sticks the emotional landing through the dramatic irony that we are watching the narrator just on the cusp of understanding while ourselves knowing how her heart will inevitably crack open when it sinks in deeper in the time after the novel has concluded.

The idea of silence, however, also plays into the political backdrop of the novel and the culture of silence that permeated Ireland during The Troubles. The wrong words, or any words at all, could land you on the wrong side of the violence. Midway through the book there is a brief conversation about a hunger striker who has died, reminding us of the violence lurking within the idyllic landscapes of Ireland and Kinsella questions if he has earned being well fed while people are starving for freedom. 'A man starved himself to death but here I am on a fine day with two women feeding me.' Of course this also juxtaposes the girl's family and her starving sisters and asks us if they deserve to go without due to the sins of their father.

He looks happy but some part of me feels sorry for every version of him.

There is a tender, sore spot at the center of the novella that is only addressed briefly and directly once, but the bruise is felt throughout. The Kinsellas are a loving family now without a child, trying to do best by the girl now in their care while also trying to not resent her family who have many children growing up without care. This novel drifts dreamily through the summer towards an inevitable end and a final paragraph that is certain to tug your heartstrings into tears. We see the girl being as much a gift for growth to the Kinsellas as they are for her, with the girl observing ‘I feel I have her balanced,’ about Mrs. Kinsella. In a scene ripe with symbolism, the man is only able to find her footprints to retrace home and jokes ‘You must have carried me there,’ though this is the sort of joke that reveals a deeper emotional truth about their attachment. My heart skipped a beat when, looking out over the sea, he points to the three lights in the sky and says that earlier there had only been two. 'There, the two lights are blinking as before, but with another, steady light, shining in between.' The imagery is beautiful.

'My heart does not so much feel that it is in my chest as in my hands, and that I am carrying it along swiftly, as though I have become the messenger for what is going on inside of me'

I can’t stress enough how beautiful and emotionally charged Foster was for me. David Mitchell has compared it to Anton Chekhov which isn’t wrong, as each sentence feels carefully crafted and chosen in construction of this sturdy and succinct little story that has a power as deep as books thrice it’s size. Keegan has an ear for dialogue and a gift for perfect sentences that feel like squeezing an ocean from a stone and Foster is a miraculous novella of the ways love can creep in and fill our hearts.


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.

**Update: Finally watched the film adaptation— An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl)—and it was absolutely wonderful. I cried again. Shoutout to my partner finding it online as it’s not in the US yet. Great performances, they change Mr Kinsella at the start a bit but it builds nicely due to that, and I loved that it’s mostly in Gaeilge. The interpretation of the final scene is great and I like how it shows the duality of the final line. Watch the trailer here.**
Profile Image for Jaline.
444 reviews1,603 followers
May 31, 2019
A poor Irish family, large with children, is going through a rough patch. They live near Clonegal so it is a fair long trip for her father to drive the little girl to spend some time with her relatives on the coast in Wexford. She allows her imagination to form pictures in her mind of who the Kinsellas might be: what they look like, how they are, what their home (and hers for the next while) is like.

While she lives with the couple, the little girl experiences many things she had never encountered before, and her mind is busy absorbing and sorting and placing these thoughts and feelings where she feels comfortable with them. Her relatives spend time talking with her, teaching her, and validating her. Even when she makes mistakes, it is given to her to figure out how to do better next time.

She also goes with them to a funeral and through people she meets there, she sees reflections of her old life at home – attitudes, compulsions - the stirring of pots that don’t need stirring, the small unkindnesses that may not be meant but are uncomfortable all the same.

And then, after time has passed, the letter comes asking the relatives to bring her back home.

This short story is a treasure. There are lessons on nearly every page that we can all learn from. I know that I did. The writing is beautiful, the cadence of melodious speech pitch-perfect. I highlighted so many fresh and inspiring passages that I have had to refrain from including any of them in this review: I simply can’t choose only a few.

When I love a book or a story, I talk about how I feel about it and what I think about it, but in my reviews I rarely ever encourage my friends and anyone else who is reading random reviews to go out and find the title and read it. Immediately, if not sooner. I am saying it now, because I believe this story has something of value for each of us. Maybe not the same “something’s”, but that isn’t the point. It is all about the adventure, the seeking, the finding, and the joy of experiencing a wonderful story well told.

Thank you to our esteemed author and revered book friend, Kevin Ansbro, for bringing this story to my attention. You were right – it probably did take less time to read this than the time it takes to make a casserole!
Profile Image for Kevin Ansbro.
Author 5 books1,367 followers
January 25, 2023
"If I hadn't seen such riches
I could live with being poor."

—From the song Sit Down, by James.

Set in rural Ireland, this very short story is spoken in the first-person narrative by a dirt-poor tinker’s daughter whose anonymity throughout serves to emphasise her incidental existence.
The girl's struggling mother, who gives birth as frequently as a hen lays eggs, has another on the way, so leaves the child in the care of the Kinsellas - farming relatives whom the kid has never met.
It swiftly becomes clear that our young narrator is unused to home comforts; even a hot bath is alien to her. The Kinsellas (themselves bereft of a child) are only too happy to lavish their unsentimental brand of love upon their menial charge.

Much is intimated but left unsaid by the author. Keegan expects her readers to fill in the gaps and draw their own conclusions. The girl is damaged but her wretched life has at least taught her to observe and adapt.
Cautiously, she begins to blossom in her bright new world of hot baths and unbidden kindness. Slowly but surely our child-in-limbo dares to become the flower that grows through a crack in a pavement.
The prose is deliberately sparse, which I didn't mind as it perfectly suited the gritty subject matter. In an almost surreal fashion, the characters ghost around each other, amping up the overall sense of detachment and fear of commitment (put me in mind of Bruce Willis's solitary interaction with humans in The Sixth Sense).

Although I'm not usually a fan of a bare-bones narrative, there is clear evidence here of the author's confident penmanship. It's an intelligent piece, mostly because of the details that are kept from us, and which loom large in our imagination.

I won't be giving anything away by saying that the girl's conflicting loyalties are vividly captured in a poignant, almost cinematic, final scene.

Not the best book I'll read this year, but an achingly sad and evocative capturing of a moment in time that requires the reader to work in tandem with the author.
Profile Image for Swrp.
561 reviews106 followers
November 8, 2021
A beautifully written story that takes place in Ireland and set in 1981, Foster is about love, kindness and compassion, and how they impact a child. The story is simple and peaceful, but also vivid and expressive. It may not be as 'impactful' as Small Things Like These, but Keegan's lyrical writing is a pleasure to read and does not need an event as a backdrop to stand out and stay memorable.

A young girl is fostered to stay with a couple on an Irish Wexford farm, while the girl's pregnant mother is about to give birth. The girl, who remains unnamed, finds that in this new place everything is in abundance - food, care, love and kindness. It is a big change for the girl, from an underprivileged, deprived and cramped living to a home filled with attention, care and surplus. Though for a short time, she feels valued, cared for and finds a space to learn and develop.

The depiction of the life, families and neighbourhoods is so real, and the description of nature and Irish summer is beautiful.
Profile Image for Paula K (on hiatus).
414 reviews424 followers
September 25, 2021
“You don’t ever have to say anything,” he says. “Always remember that as a thing you need never do. Many’s the man lost much just because he missed a perfect opportunity to say nothing.”

When a young girl from Clonegal, Ireland, in 1981, goes with her father to a farm in Wexford she has no idea what to expect. Told only that she will be staying with a man and his wife, the Kinsellas, she doesn’t know if she will ever be going back home. Her mother, Mary, is with child and near her time. With too many children and not many resources her family has decided to foster her out.

Many things are new to her with John and Edna. She finds they lead a different life and adapts to the changes well. There is no punishment here, just learning and kindness. Her foster father calls her Petal. She thrives with their love and affection. They take her to the Irish Sea to play. She is brought to the Town of Gorey for new clothes. She learns how to enjoy cooking.

Winner of the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award, Claire Keegan has written a moving story with tremendous emotional depth. Unforgettable are her final pages which break your heart.

My dear friend Jaline from Canada, and friends to many on Goodreads, wrote a plea to read this novella of 88 pages “immediately, if not sooner.” I decided to take her up on it, and did so. After picking up this book at the library yesterday and reading this story, the author’s prose left me with a variety of emotions and a beautiful feeling.

Read this immediately, if not sooner...

5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,916 reviews35.3k followers
March 6, 2019
The writing is exquisite- flawless ....
An absolute gem of a tiny novella.
Profile Image for Kimber Silver.
Author 1 book201 followers
February 24, 2023
"It's too good, she is. She wants to find the good in others, and sometimes her way of finding that is to trust them, hoping she'll not be disappointed but she sometimes is." ― Claire Keegan

Judging by the title and the cover, Foster was not what I expected, yet was everything I could have wanted it to be. The writing is so pure that there is no effort in the reading. I absorbed every word and was transported to a farm in Ireland where I met a girl with long legs, taken by her impoverished father to spend the summer with relatives. It sounds like a straightforward tale, but I promise you it is anything but simple.

The youngster, one of many siblings, found herself an only child in this new home environment. It was uncomfortable in a comforting way. Mrs. Kinsella, the substitute mother, scrubbed away the child's dirt and replaced her worn dress with sturdy work clothes. The story is filled with relatable exchanges that might have appeared humdrum if written by a lesser author, but in the hands of Claire Keegan became a cleansing of the soul – mine included.

I don’t want to give away the soulful beauty that lies between the covers of this incredible book. Suffice to say, Foster is eighty-eight pages of brilliance. Keegan wrote the book that my heart already knew about, and by the time I turned the last page, I felt I was that girl in Ireland. Bravo, Ms. Keegan!

If you haven’t read this, I urge you to run - don’t walk - to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy. It would be a terrible shame to miss this glorious short story!

I’ve already pre-ordered her next book, and I can hardly wait!
Profile Image for Sujoya .
374 reviews725 followers
June 22, 2022
“Part of me wants my father to leave me here while another part of me wants him to take me back, to what I know. I am in a spot where I can neither be what I always am nor turn into what I could be.”

At the onset of the novel, we meet our young narrator as she is being driven by her father to a relative’s home in Wexford County in the Irish countryside. She is to remain in John and Edna Kinsella’s care for an undecided interval of time. She has never met the Kinsellas before and is uncertain of how she will fare with her foster family.

” But this is a different type of house. Here there is room, and time to think. There may even be money to spare.”

Edna and John are a kind and compassionate couple. They take care of her and involve her in their daily routine. From what we understand, when compared to her home with her parents, her experience with her foster family is markedly different. Unlike her own family where she is one of many children (her mother, Mary, was heavily pregnant at the time of our young narrator being sent to the Kinsella’s home) and there are more mouths to feed, here she wants for nothing- food, clothing, kindness and a deep emotional connection- a family among whom she feels loved and wanted. She observes that there is a lot of work that is done throughout the day on the farm, but Edna and John proceed at an easy and unhurried pace. Edna and John have secrets and have experienced loss in the past but they embrace this young girl as a part of their family. She reciprocates their feelings and in their care, she thrives. However, this arrangement is temporary and as her time with Edna and John nears its end and she is taken back to her biological family, we share in her realization of how the definition of home and family can change over time. As her heart breaks, our hearts ache for her.

Much is left unsaid and left for the reader to understand and interpret. Claire Keegan’s prose is simple yet elegant. Seen from the eyes of a child, the story revolves around themes of family and belongingness and how even the smallest gestures of kindness can profoundly impact the innocent heart of a child. With its vivid imagery and emotional depth, Claire Keegan’s Foster is a short but impactful story that will stay with you long after you have finished reading. Last year I was first introduced to Clare Keegan’s work with her beautiful novella, Small Things Like These. With Foster, Claire Keegan does not disappoint and proves without a doubt that she is a masterful storyteller.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for the digital review copy of this poignant novella. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Profile Image for Terrie  Robinson.
374 reviews548 followers
November 11, 2022
"Foster" by Claire Keegan is a beautifully written short read!

The setting is the Irish countryside in the summer of 1981.

The narration is in the first-person voice of a young daughter whose father takes her to live with an older couple she doesn't know. Her mother is pregnant again and there are many mouths to feed at home. At John and Edna Kinsella's house, she is the only child at the table.

She is shown kindness, given new clothes, and made to feel welcome in her new surroundings. She has chores to do, lessons to learn, and rules to abide by. Yet with daily displays of affection from her foster parents, her feelings of uncertainty remain. She wonders if she'll ever be going home and then begins to wonder if she really wants to...

What a beautifully written story and I continue to be amazed by Claire Keegan's ability to confine so much emotion and life into short reads time and time again. I love how she leaves an 'unspoken' ending to this story allowing the reader's imagination to take hold and create their own. For me, this writing style encourages a deeper dive into the hidden depth of a story and its characters.

The audiobook narrator Aoife McMahon breathes life into all the characters with her range of voicing. This is the third listen I've had the pleasure to experience Aoife's beautiful Irish accented narration and it's one that shouldn't be missed. In addition, since this is such a short read, I listened to it twice, back-to-back, and happy to report I discovered more details to the story the second time around!

I believe everyone should read or listen to a Claire Keegan book. She is a remarkable storyteller and I have plans to read everything she has written and continues to write. I highly recommend this audiobook. All five stars!

Thank you to NetGalley, HighBridge Audio, and Claire Keegan for an ALC of this book. It has been an honor to give my honest and voluntary review.
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,106 reviews3,880 followers
March 11, 2023
Secrets and shame

Adult emotions can be hard to fathom when you’re a young child, especially if the reasons are hidden from you. Some families explicitly have secrets, others claim to have none.

There are no secrets in this house… Where there’s a secret… there’s shame.
When adults keep secrets from their children, they usually say, even to themselves, that it’s to protect the children. Often, it’s to hide the parents’ shame.

Sometimes secrets are by omission:
You don't ever have to say anything… Many's the man lost much just because he missed a perfect opportunity to say nothing.

We’re told it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I’m not sure that’s true of romantic love, let alone any other sort of love. What about mild poverty and neglect: is it better for a child to stay in the familiar family home, with parents and siblings, or to have a taste of something better? When the story stops, everyone has had glimpses of ease and happiness, but I think they are all sadder as a result. Was it worth it?

Image: Illustration of the girl running, by Simon Pemberton, for the original short story in The New Yorker (Source)

Ireland now, back then

This novella is told with the breezy immediacy of the first-person present tense. It’s about a little girl being sent to spend the summer with relatives she’s never met. It’s set in a small town in SE Ireland, probably around the 1980s. The town is real and named; the child is nameless and seems to be about seven or eight. Her mother is pregnant with yet another child they can’t afford, but this girl is the only one sent away. She doesn’t know how long for, or why, though her father jokes about the expense of her appetite. Back-to-front Irish syntax in the dialogue roots it in the Emerald Isle.
It’s only missing her I’ll be when she is gone.

Time to care

This is a different type of house. Here there is room, and time to think. There may even be money to spare.
The Kinsellas are not wealthy, but they have wondrous things like a washing machine, freezer, vacuum cleaner, and a deep bath filled with hot water. There are chores, but fewer and less pressured than back home; there is time and space to teach her to do things properly. They are kind, gentle, and generous, and there are tender and understated scenes with the Kinsellas separately and together.

Such kindness exposes her divided loyalties: when Kinsella holds her hand, she realises her own father has never done so.
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.
The girl realises money doesn’t buy happiness, despite the joyful extravagance of being given a pound to spend in a seaside town. She sees the shadow of sadness in the Kinsellas long before she has any understanding of its cause.

Image: Silhouette of the girl and Mrs Kinsella in a field, from the film. (Source)

Who’s talking?

I feel at such a loss for words, but this is a new place, and new words are needed.
The bewilderment, gratitude, and blossoming of the girl is delightfully, plausibly portrayed. But there is an inherent problem: how much is the narrator’s adult hindsight skewing her analysis? For example, when she thinks of her sisters throwing clay against the gable wall, which will turn to mud in the rain, she muses:
Everything changes into something else, turns into some version of what it was before.
Her parents are not given to that sort of abstract talk.


• “This way men have of not talking: they like to kick a divot out of the grass with a boot heel, to slap the roof of a car before it takes off, to spit, to sit with their legs wide apart, as though they do not care.”

• “In a spot where I can neither be what I always am nor turn into what I could be.”

• “He is given to lying about things that would be nice, if true.”

• “God help you child. If you were mine, I'd never leave you in a house with strangers.”

See also

• This book is an expansion of a much shorter story in The New Yorker. You can read that version HERE.

• After reading, I watched the film. Inevitably, there are a few things you won't know or might not notice if you haven't read the book, but I thought it really good in its own right, and as an adaptation. It’s mostly in Irish, is called An Cailín Ciúin or The Quiet Girl, and has been nominated for Best International Feature Film at next week’s Oscars. It is explicitly set in 1981 with a 10-year old girl and filmed in the sort of muted tones Wes Anderson uses. There are lingering shots of dimly-lit interiors, the landscape, and the farm, with little need for words. Dialogue is sparse, and mostly taken directly from the book. See imdb.

By chance, this was my third consecutive book about children being sent away. It made for interesting comparisons, as the three are very different:

• Being sent to single-sex boarding school aged 11. I wrote about my experience, in lieu of a review of Ysenda Maxtone Graham’s Terms & Conditions, HERE.

• A 16-year old is sent to a mental institution for more than 60 years, for trivial and wrong reasons. It’s fiction that is close to many real cases, and, remarkably, it’s not a depressing book. Maggie O’Farrell’s The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, which I reviewed HERE.
Profile Image for Beata.
714 reviews1,085 followers
November 13, 2022
A poignant tale of an Irish girl from a poor background who spends a short time with a foster family and through whose eyes we learn about the tragedy that struck the couple some time ago. Her innocence, intelligence and experience already gained despite young age is most moving.
A big thank-you to Claire Keegan, Grove Atlantic, and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday is (reluctantly) on hiatus.
1,927 reviews2,013 followers
November 15, 2022
EXCERPT: With my mother it is all work: us, the butter making, the dinners, the washing-up and getting up and getting ready for Mass and school, weaning calves and hiring men to plough and harrow the fields, stretching the money and setting the alarm. But this is a different type of house. Here there is room, and time to think. There may even be money to spare.

ABOUT 'FOSTER': A small girl is sent to live with foster parents on a farm in rural Ireland, without 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. And then a secret is revealed and suddenly, she realizes how fragile her idyll is.

MY THOUGHTS: Claire Keegan writes with a poetic beauty that reminds me of calm waves lapping at the shore. Although the reality of where this young girl has come from, and will be returned to, is harsh and stark, Keegan's writing is anything but.

There is a stunning emotional depth in this novella. Keegan conveys much in very few pages. There are a lot of lessons to be learned here on how to treat a child, and the blossoming of this girl away from a life of overcrowded poverty, just one of many children, in a place where she is recognised and cherished as a person in her own right, is a wonderous experience.

I have been awed by everything I have so far read by this author.


#Foster #NetGalley

I: #clairekeeganfiction @groveatlantic

T: @CKeeganFiction @GroveAtlantic

#fivestarread #historicalfiction #irishfiction #novella #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Claire Keegan was born in County Wicklow, the youngest of a large family. She travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana when she was seventeen, and studied English and Political Science at Loyola University. She returned to Ireland in 1992 and lived for a year in Cardiff, Wales, where she undertook an MA in creative writing and taught undergraduates at the University of Wales.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Foster by Claire Keegan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Dem.
1,184 reviews1,080 followers
January 24, 2023
So delighted to see this book made into a movie “ An Cailin Ciuin” (The Quiet Girl) and has now being nominated for an Oscar. Beautiful Book and Movie

What a terrific find this little book was and I have no idea how I missed out on this one for so long. Foster by Claire Keegan is skilfully crafterd and thought a provoking Novella which really brought me back to my childhood with its wonderful sense of Irishness and it's rich prose and unsettling storyline. This for me is the Ireland of the 1980s and Claire Keegan has truly got inside the mind of a child and crafted a story where what is unsaid is more important than what is actually said."
This Novella (under 100 pages) tell the story of a a young girl from a struggling farming family in rural Ireland who spends a summer with better off childless relatives on another farm. She's been sent away during the summer to lessen the burden on her strained mother who is pregnant yet again. The girl doesn't know when she will be going home. Her father who drives her there doesn't say when he her will return for her, or even say goodbye properly. The couple, each in their own way show her a love and affection she is unfamiliar with, as she settles in she comes to learn that the couple have their own sorrows.

This is one of those remarkable short books where not a wold is wasted and every sentence is skilfully crafted. On finishing this book I went straight back to page one and read the book all over again as I wanted to read it with a different view this time. I absolutely loved the sense of time and place as you see and smell the Irish countryside, experience the quiet pace of life and the rural communities where your business is everyone's business.

This would make a fantastic bookclub read and I can understand why this is has won so many awards and why it is on the reading list for Leaving Certificate English in Secondary School as so much to discuss in this one.
Profile Image for Kay ☼.
1,926 reviews634 followers
November 12, 2022
After Sunday Mass in Clonegal, a little girl's father dropped her off at the Kinsellas in rural Wexford farm. The child will be staying with a childless foster family while her mother gets ready to deliver yet another baby. The child came from a large family and through her narration, we learn what she thought is expected of her at the farm, but instead she received all the love and attention that seems foreign to her.

Foster is a tender and poignant story about family and kindness. I also love the vivid description of rural Ireland during summertime. Although this is a short listen, it was beautiful.

Aoife McMahon's narration is wonderful and her beautiful accent is not difficult to understand. There are words that I'm not familiar with and without a print copy, I can't really look them up. Nevertheless, that didn't ruin the story for me but made it more genuine.

I may have to listen to this story again. Claire Keegan's Foster bittersweet ending left me wondering.🤔

Thank you RB Media, HighBridge Audio, and Netgalley for my ALC.
Profile Image for Karen.
561 reviews1,104 followers
April 13, 2019
This story is narrated by a young girl who is fostered out to another family during the summer months in Wexford, Ireland 1981.
This girl comes from a struggling and overcrowded family and with the foster family, she sees a different sort of life, and she thrives from the affection shown to her.
I was very moved by this very short novella.
Profile Image for Rosh [busy month; will catch up soon!].
1,357 reviews1,197 followers
November 7, 2022
In a Nutshell: Touching and subtle. Beautiful writing, heartfelt emotions, realistic characters. You’ll want more at the end. But you’ll also realize that you have acquired far more than the 90-odd pages contain.

Story Synopsis:
The unnamed first-person protagonist, a child of unspecified age, has been sent by her parents to live with a foster family on a rural Irish farm while her mother readies herself to give birth to yet another child. She doesn’t know the people she is to stay with, and she doesn’t know when she is to return home. What she doesn’t know is that life is going to bloom for her in this foster home. But all good things come to an end, right? Or don’t they?

I loved the three main characters: the child and the two foster parents. Keegan sketches their personalities in a striking way without going into details. It is only with every subsequent scene that you begin to put a picture of what might be the backstory of the characters.

I’ve read three Claire Keegan works so far, and each time, I’ve read the respective story twice. The first time the regular way, and the second time to see what more clues I might have missed. Her writing is very intelligent, and she also respects her readers’ intelligence by not spoon-feeding them every single detail. Nor does she shove the emotions into your face but causes you to feel them through simple scenes and hidden cues. I do appreciate this trait of hers, though it makes me work that much harder to glean the best of her writing as she leaves a lot unsaid. In this story though, I wish she had revealed at least a few more details. The age of the protagonist, for one. While we can gauge that the child could be anywhere between 6-10 years old, but I like knowing the age of child characters so that I can picture them and their behaviour better.

Names in all their forms have a significant role in the delivery of this novella, which is quite ironic as our narrator remains anonymous throughout the story. She is referred to variously as ‘girl’ or ‘petal’ or any other term, which reveals how the speaker views her. What is also interesting is her own approach to names. Her temporary foster mom, for instance, is always “the woman” in her thoughts while the foster dad is mostly “Kinsella”. There is also a significant moment connected to names at the very end, which is the most poignant moment of the story.

The writing is, as always, poetic without being over the top. Keegan maintains in her scenes the perfect balance between description and conversation, never allowing one to overpower the other. She is also true to the national identity of the characters, and retains the Irish lilt in their lines. The child’s emotions of awe and worry and fear and comfort come out well through the first person rendition. The story is medium-paced, and it would be better if you read it slower to get the exact sense of what’s happening. Keegan’s books are never to be skip-read.

The bittersweet ending left my heart longing for more. Though I know it was the only possible ending for this story, one can still wish that fiction worked better than reality and gave the girl an ending she deserved instead of an ending she was destined to have.

All in all, this isn’t a story that will leave you easily. It isn’t perfect, but it is striking in its writing and memorable in its characters. Definitely worth a read.

4.25 stars.

My thanks to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for the DRC of “Foster”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

‘Foster’ was an international bestseller on its release in 2010, and one of The Times’ “Top 50 Novels Published in the 21st Century.” A variant of this story was published on the New Yorker site. This is the revised and expanded edition.

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Profile Image for JimZ.
998 reviews434 followers
December 31, 2022
I got all choked up at end of this novella. Beautifully written, superb.

I read a collection of short stories of hers, Antarctica,11 years previous to this one, and I thought some stories were good and some were meh. Wow, what a difference with this book — just wonderful all the away around. And I liked her 2021 novel too — Small Things Like These.

This book reminded me of ‘Ellen Foster’ (1987), written by Kaye Gibbons. I read that years ago but remember crying at the end because it had a somewhat similar type ending to this one... a girl who was abused in the recent past was finally shown love by her new step-mom. I really have to read that now...well, I will in 2023.

I didn’t get the last sentence of the book and what it meant. Leave it to me, I probably missed a major point of the novella.

• I did not know this. Got it from Wikepedia: Foster was adapted for film in 2021 and released as the acclaimed] An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) in May 2022.

• (the reviewer makes the same comment about the book ‘Ellen Foster’) https://www.npr.org/2022/11/01/113182...
Profile Image for Ron Charles.
1,024 reviews48.3k followers
November 15, 2022
At the end of last year, I was telling everyone I met about a novella called “Small Things Like These,” by the Irish writer Claire Keegan. It’s about a coal seller who discovers a troubling secret in his village just before Christmas. I don’t have much faith in predictions — the future’s tastes are impossible to fathom — but “Small Things Like These” seems destined to be a classic (rave).

Now comes another little book by Keegan — a short story, really — called “Foster.” The New Yorker published an abridged version in 2010, but this lovely hard-bound edition, with the original text, is a keepsake.

Keegan’s work takes me back to when I first experienced the palpable thrill of entering an author’s world. Her sentences are so artfully honed but so free of artifice they feel as rough and verdant as sprigs of fresh heather.

“Foster” is about a little girl from a poor Irish family. With her mother pregnant, again, and her ne’er-do-well father unable to provide for so many mouths, the girl is handed over to the Kinsellas, a childless couple in another village. The transition is abrupt; her father drops her off without a hug or kiss, or any indication of when he might be back — just a quip: “Try not to fall into the fire, you.”

Although the girl is nervous, her new guardians are tender and kind. She’s awed by the unfamiliar atmosphere of their home. “Here there is room, and time to think,” she says. “There may even be money to spare.”

After she wets the bed on her first night, Mrs. Kinsella brushes her shame aside, cleans up the mess and insists it’s only the mattress weeping. When Mr. Kinsella takes her for a walk, “he takes shorter steps so we can walk in time.” She suddenly realizes: “My father has never once held my hand.”

With the simple incidents of village life, Keegan captures the spirit of a girl being loved and appreciated in a way she’s entirely unaccustomed to. “I feel at such a loss for words,” she says, “but this is a new place, and new words are needed.”

Our perspective is limited to the girl’s impressions, but we can tell that the Kinsellas’ affection is tinged with grief and with the knowledge that this child is theirs only for a short time.

I don’t want to say anything more about “Foster,” except “Read it.”

This review is drawn from The Washington Post's free weekly Book Club newsletter. You can read the rest here:
Profile Image for Michael Burke.
126 reviews68 followers
January 26, 2023
Claire Keegan once again delivers magic.

“Foster” presents an unnamed young girl who finds herself shuffled off to an aunt’s house while her mother is in the final stages of a pregnancy. This girl has been neglected, both by an overworked mother and an insensitive father who– even when he is dropping off the girl– fails to say goodbye or even let her know if she will be coming back.

‘Good luck to ye,’ he says, ‘I hope this girl will give no trouble.’ He turns to me then. ‘Try not to fall into the fire, you.’

Every child craves and deserves attention. The aunt and uncle immediately take to her and she is bewildered by the comfort of a nurturing she has never known. We feel a confidence blooming as the girl comes to understand she fills a need in this house, a need springing from an intimate secret.

“Foster” is an updated version of a short story Claire Keegan published years ago. Like last year’s powerful “Small Things Like These,” we become emotionally attached to characters living in a believable world. She has the remarkable gift of drawing you into her stories and I find myself rereading each a number of times to savor her magic. I strongly recommend sharing this young girl’s life changing journey.

“Kinsella takes my hand in his. 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.”

Thank you Grove Atlantic and NetGalley and Edelweiss for providing the advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review. #Foster #NetGalley

***Nominated for an Academy Award, "The Quiet Girl" is based on this story. I cannot wait to see it.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,192 reviews1,244 followers
June 8, 2022
"A new place and new words are needed."

Claire Keegan presents a little novella that is compact in size, but it is impactful in its telling. Keegan takes us to Clonegal, Ireland where we stand with a young girl who struggles with the parting of an emotional sea. Her father coaxes her into the back seat of the car as she nervously unties the braids that her mother tied so tightly just moments ago. Undoing the past....uncertain of the future.

Keegan keeps the girl's name tightly in her closed palm. We never know if it. But what we do know is the rush to take this girl to her mother's people, the Kinsellas who live in Wexford on the coast. Mary, her mother, is about to give birth to the next one in line and Dan, her father, wishes to be done with the task of dropping her off.

Edna and John Kinsella welcome the child with open arms. This "girleen" will be a great help to Edna. And the days go by with chores checked off on this farm. The girl warms to the touch of them both and begins to feel valued for the first time. But she knows not when her father will return for her. "I am in a spot where I can neither be what I always am nor turn into what I could be."

And then the curtain is lifted and the young girl will come upon a secret that Edna and John have
kept in the warming place in their hearts. The child is so limited in her ability to express an emotion so tender and so volatile. And Claire Keegan will find a voice for her characters like no other. Raw, heartfelt, sorrowful, and bitter sweet. Keegan knows the soft nudge of compassion and the deep knowing of the heavy footprints left behind in one's journey in life. Secrets in the dark recesses brought into the light.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Grove Atlantic Press and to the talented Claire Keegan for the opportunity.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,711 reviews2,236 followers
March 22, 2019
”It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart
Without saying a word you can light up the dark
Try as I may I could never explain what I hear when you don’t say a thing”

--When You Say Nothing At All, Alison Krauss, Songwriters: Don Schlitz / Paul Overstreet

Set in Wexford, Ireland, in the 1980s, this is a quiet, beautifully written story, less than 100 pages, which began as an even shorter story. Beautifully written, this says so much with so few words - about love, and kindness and how transformative that showing and sharing love and kindness can prove to be. The story may be conveyed even more in what she does not say.

"Many's the man lost much just because he missed the opportunity to say nothing."

This isn’t a “sweet” book, if anything there is a haunting element to this, a feeling that there are elements to this story we are not privy to. A nameless girl, referred to only by pet names by the foster family whom she finds herself living with, surrounded by love and a sense of the expectation of change.

Highly recommended
Profile Image for Pakinam Mahmoud.
706 reviews2,581 followers
February 6, 2023
إحتضان ..نوفيلا قصيرة للكاتبة الأيرلندية كلير كيجن التي تعتبر من أهم أديبات أيرلندا و تُرجمت هذه القصة إلي أكثر من عشر لغات وقيل عنها إنها من أروع القصص المكتوبة مؤخراً باللغة الإنجليزية...

تدور أحداث الرواية حول فتاة صغيرة يرسلها أهلها لتعيش مع والدين بالتبني للتخفيف من عليهم بعض الأعباء المادية كونهم أسرة فقيرة و لديهم العديد من الأطفال...
علي الرغم إن الفتاة صغيرة السن و مثل هذه التجربة ممكن تكون صعبة عليها إلا إنها كانت سعيدة ووجدت من الإهتمام والحب ما لم تجده في منزل أهلها...

النوفيلا حجمها صغيرة..يمكن الانتهاء منها في ساعة بالكتير...تقييماتها عالية جداً و مع ذلك أنا مقدرتش أندمج معاها وكنت فاكرة  إن المشكلة في الترجمة ولذلك قررت أقرأها بالإنجليزية وأكتشفت إن الترجمة كانت ممتازة وإن مشكلتي في قلم الكاتبة نفسها..

القصة حلوة ولكن الرواية مفيهاش روح و كإنك بتقرأ قصة موجهة للأطفال..مقدرتش أحس بمشاعر أي حد من شخصيات الرواية ولم أتأثر بالنهاية اللي كل الناس بتقول إنها أحلي حاجة في الكتاب..
لم تعجبني!
Profile Image for Mevsim Yenice.
Author 4 books966 followers
May 20, 2021
Dün iki saat boyunca beni İrlanda kırsalında, küçük bir kız çocuğunun elinden tutarak gezdiren güzel kitap. Yer yer sarıldık küçük kızla, birbirimizin aidiyet boşluğuna iyi gelmeye çalıştık. Yer yer de çocuk olmanın tadını çıkardık birlikte.

Dilerim daha çok okuyucuya ulaşır.
Profile Image for Carol.
348 reviews322 followers
June 24, 2019
“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter."
(Letter 16, 1657)”
― Blaise Pascal, The Provincial Letters

Poignant novella about a young girl from rural Ireland fostered out to relatives during a summer in the 1980s.

I loved this author’s style of writing. The language is spare and much is implied as details are slowly unfolding. It’s a great example of showing instead of just telling a story and made all the more powerful and vital for it.

I’m the ninth of ten children raised in an Irish American family. Most of my siblings are gone now and some were raised during the Great Depression. Elements of this story conjured up past recollections of my own family accounts of poverty during those harsh, bygone times.

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,395 reviews801 followers
January 1, 2023
“A big, loose hound whose coat is littered with the shadows of the trees lets out a few rough, half-hearted barks, then sits on the step and looks back at the doorway where the man has come out to stand.”

This is the first the young girl sees of the place her father is leaving her. She doesn’t know for how long, but her mother is having another baby, and she would just be in the way at home. Her father says almost nothing.

“He turns to me then. ‘Try not to fall into the fire, you.’ I watch him reverse, turn into the lane, and drive away. “

There are no children in the house, and she is almost overwhelmed when the woman later gives her a big, long luxurious bath, something she has never had all to herself!

“The bath fills and the white room changes so that a type of blindness comes over us; we can see everything and yet we can’t see.”

When they look for the girl’s clean clothes, they both realise her father has left her in such a rush that he forgot to leave her belongings. Some small pants and shirts are found, and the girl begins to settle in.

She’s very unsure of herself, but she enjoys helping on the farm, and unlike stories of mean-spirited foster parents who take kids in just for free labour, these people seem to care about her. At one point she hesitates to reply to the man.

“He laughs then, a queer, sad laugh. I don’t know what to say. ‘You don’t ever have to say anything,’ he says. ‘Always remember that as a thing you need never do. Many’s the man lost much just because he missed a perfect opportunity to say nothing.’

What good advice. Both the husband and wife pay attention to her and offer suggestions and build her confidence. When she learns something of their history, she begins to understand them.

Her behaviour reminds me of a rescue pet that is unsure what to expect – punishment or kindness. We are all animals, conditioned by our circumstances, after all.

The word foster can mean to take care of a child, usually temporarily. It can also mean to encourage an interest or talent, or growth. I think Keegan uses it in both senses of the word. I’m partial to her stories and her people, so of course I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. Thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for the copy for review.

It was a lovely read to end my reading year. Happy New Year!
Profile Image for Liong.
120 reviews64 followers
January 1, 2023
My Goodreads friend, Jennifer, recommended that I must read "Foster" after I finished reading "Small Things Like These"

This simple and short story involves a lot of kindness, touch, and emotion between foster strangers and a child.

I like this beautifully written novel.
Profile Image for Dolors.
522 reviews2,177 followers
March 6, 2023
That such a short story could provoke such a deep impact is nothing short of astonishing. From the opening lines of this deceptively simple narrative I felt my gut clench tightly, anticipating an emotional blow that didn’t fail to arrive in the form of a single word put in the precise context. “Daddy”.
Kindness when not expected can be a miraculous gift but when taken away it can turn into cruelty. The little girl who thrives in the care of her distant relatives knows she will have to go back to her family where love is scarce and kindness a luxury when too many mouths have to be fed as her mother needs to make ends meet with a gambling and absent father.

As in her other stories, Keegan’s artistry relays in the small details, in the things left unsaid, in the charged glances between the little girl and the poor couple who embrace her as their own.
The imagery is rich, the swift descriptions of the Irish summer are vibrant with color and expectation, and a small walk along the riverside with a man who smiles, who holds the smaller hand of a girl craving love, guiding her footsteps, becomes an opening of the heart, a source of healing and restoration.
Where there were only two half-extinguished lights in the shore, there are now three, shinning in spite of the darkness looming above; three hearts beating at the rhythm of a new found family, as fragile as that new-found balance might be.
Profile Image for Ken.
Author 3 books901 followers
December 19, 2022
On the cover of Foster is a pithy David Mitchell blurb: "As good as Chekhov."

Wow. Go there, Mitch. Where angels fear to tread.

Really, if I were author of this book, I might be flattered as hell with those words, but it would seem bad ju-ju to plaster them all over the cover, so either Claire Keegan is one confident scribe or the marketing team at Grove Press is one to be reckoned with (incoming Russian missile -- Chekhov, no less!).

Speaking of marketing, much like the other Keegan I read and enjoyed in October, Small Things Like These, this isn't really a novel. Novella, maybe? I suppose, at 92 pp., but when you consider the huge font, perhaps even a long short story is more honest.

Wasn't it Poe comma Edgar "Spell-My-Middle-Name-Right" Allan the one who defined a short story as a piece of literature one read in a single sitting, one that had a single powerful effect? Check (but not -hov) and check (but not Chekhov)!

Whatever. Call it a hedgehog, if you wish. It's a curious little period piece that reminds me of America's pastoral past. You know, a place where schools are actually off summers so children can help with the harvest.

No, wait. This is Ireland, not Indiana. One's a red state, the other a green state -- or in Keegan's adept hands, a "read" state.

Dunno. It just feels like comfort food reading tiny little books about family, everyday household and farm tasks, cows, milk, water in dippers, neighbors who drink, neighbors who want to know your business, families with secrets, families who claim to have NO secrets (when, like mammals with hair, shedding all secrets is a familial impossibility), so on, so forth.

And the plot. Simply the oldest in the book. Little girl goes to spend time with relatives on farm and finds in them a distant mirror, one that reflects parts of herself she never knew.

That's all, folks. A challenge to pull off, but Keegan does it with aplomb, with grace, with a minimalist style that hits the right spot as if in answer to a dare.

So, yeah. One sitting. Singular effect. Liked the book, even though not much happens. Makes you wonder if we're ALL novellas or long short stories because nothing much happens. In our lives, I mean (and I'm discounting those who put their every thought and move and dinner and day trip on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, to which I can only say #whocares).

In this little protagonist's case, I did care. And if it's as much about subtext as text, so much the better. Unsaid sometimes fills a room more than said.

Or so I've heard said.

Bottom line: Recommended, if low expectations ride shotgun.
September 29, 2022
After reading two other books by Claire Keegan over the past few weeks, I decided first, that I love this author and second, that I would take a little break because not all of her works were available at my public libraries or on Hoopla. I especially could not find this book, Foster, which is enjoying a new publication, so of course I became obsessed looking for it. And then, what do you know? The book showed up on NetGalley. No sooner had I requested it when I received an email from Grove Press offering me a copy for my honest review (talk about timing). So, first of all, my honest review. I loved the book and I love this author (one might have guessed since this was the THIRD book I read by her in as many weeks).

A young girl’s father drives her to the Kinsella farm in another town, where Mr. and Mrs. Kinsella have agreed to look after her for the summer until her pregnant mother gives birth to sibling #? (everyone has lost count). The young girl leaves the reader to believe that her mother would be happy for her to stay indefinitely, and she is clearly troubled by this. Her fear that she is unloved is validated by the fact that her mother is not affectionate by nature and rarely hugs or nurtures her other than the odd query whether she would like another pancake on a morning.

Mr. and Mrs. Kinsella take the time to parent her, include her almost completely in the family circle of friends, teaching and nurturing her in family chores, personal hygiene, values, and instructing her in the proper way to respond and converse, plying her with treats and affection that she has never experienced. The Young Girl clearly loved the routine, order and stability, and threw herself into the role with enthusiasm.

Watching the child’s emotional growth and development in just those few months where the Kinsella’s were devoted solely to her was captivating. She was so warmly treated that she dared to indulge herself in the fantasy of staying on and continuing in the role of “only” child in the Kinsella household.

We were offered a glimpse of the close-knit farming community where neighbors. including the Kinsella’s, reached out to help one-another….and also to gossip about one another.

It was interesting to watch how the child’s loyalties are naturally bestowed, on her family and how those loyalties manifested also in defense of the Kinsellas, who she came to love and view as surrogate parents.

So, How do I Love Thee Claire Keegan?

I love thee because your prose is beautiful
I love thee because the reactions of your characters are pitch perfect
I love thee because your stories are original, unsettling, and unexpected
I love thee because you are not sappy and make me cry, although your characters or the circumstances they find themselves in are often tragic
I love thee because you take me to places and times I have never visited (including emotionally and intellectually)
I love thee because you say what you have to say in 200+ pages or less (God Bless You. My patience and attention spans just that far)
I love thee for dozens more reasons, but I have to get dinner ready or 16 people will go hungry tonight…

Thank thee NetGalley and Grove Press for sharing this amazing book with me. I loved it.
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,713 reviews638 followers
November 27, 2022
The story opens with this young adolescent Irish girl being dropped off by her father at a farm of “friends.” She doesn’t know how long she will be there, but her mother is expecting yet another child and there is no room for her at home. This farm only has a married couple and her.

"This water is cool and clean as anything I have ever tasted: it tastes of my father leaving, of him never having been there, of having nothing after he was gone. I dip it again and lift it level with the sunlight. I drink six measures of water and wish, for now, that this place without shame or secrets could be my home."

"‘God help you, child,’ she whispers. ‘If you were mine, I’d never leave you in a house with strangers.’"

The story is about stories. The stories we tell and those we don’t. It is about what is in the stories; what is made up; and, what is left out. And, it is about secrets.

"‘Were you alright in there?’ she says.
I say I was.
‘Did she ask you anything?’
‘A few things, nothing much.’
‘What did she ask you?’
‘She asked me if you used butter or margarine in your pastry.’
‘Did she ask you anything else?’
‘She asked me was the freezer packed tight.’
‘There you are,’ says Kinsella.
‘Did she tell you anything?’ the woman asks. I don’t know what to say. ‘What did she tell you?’"

A very well-paced story that makes you wonder what has changed and what has stayed the same in the Ireland of today. 4.5*

"‘You don’t ever have to say anything,’ he says. ‘Always remember that as a thing you need never do. Many’s the man lost much just because he missed a perfect opportunity to say nothing.’"
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