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4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,306 ratings  ·  293 reviews
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.

Winner of the Davy Byrnes Memorial Prize, Fost
Paperback, 89 pages
Published February 10th 2010 by Faber & Faber (first published 2010)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,306 ratings  ·  293 reviews

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May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 encountere
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Paula by: Jaline
“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
Kevin Ansbro
"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 be
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
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."
Elyse  Walters
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The writing is exquisite- flawless ....
An absolute gem of a tiny novella.
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“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 o
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Many's the man lost much just because he missed the opportunity to say nothing."

An innocent young child discovers a new way of life when she is dropped off to stay with an unfamiliar couple. (perhaps relatives)

Set in rural Ireland on a farm in Wexford, the author gives just enough information to keep the reader guessing as we follow the daily life of the Kinsellas and a little girl in a house with no one.

An emotional little gem of a read by Claire Keegan.

”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 transfo
Diane S ☔
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
The language is sparse, the young girl never has her name mentioned, rather she is called tulip and other names. Poignant, sensitive, endearing and bittersweet. So much is related in such a small book. Enjoyed this novella very much.
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2013, ireland
"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."

Secrets and Lies in 1981 County Wexford. 88 perfect pages. Faultless, graceful, haunting. I hope Keegan writes more soon. Well, not more. Because it's what she leaves out that makes it such a marvel, so no, not more. But more of this kind of minimalism. A starvation diet like the hunger striker whose death forms
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: random, pub-2010
The first confusion is the cover and the title. Almost monochromatic, some children and ‘Foster’ written across in big letters. I was ready to dismiss it as another product of misery lit but before I turned away I noticed something about the ‘New Yorker’. As it turns out, Claire Keegan is an accomplished writer and ‘Foster’ appeared as a short story in the New Yorker before it appeared in a slightly expanded version as a stand-alone book. For a publisher to do something as reckless as to publish ...more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A rich,tender Irish beauty told in only 88 pages. Each word is perfectly placed rendering an unforgettable story with characters that seep deeply into your heart. Not to be missed.

Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A short, subtle, evocatively written novella.
Everything about this book says "simple" - the language, the story, the title, but after you read this, you realise nothing about it is simple. It's quite moving and sad.

The best thing about this was definitely the writing. The way Claire Keegan tells the story is amazing. The little girl doesn't say much about her family but eventually you're able to create this picture in your head with all the little pieces of information she does tell you and you fill in the gaps where you need to. So for a
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very beautiful. Short and to the point. With a lot left for the imagination. The twist at the end was very unsuspected. Incredibly well told.
A beautifully written, award-winning short story about a young girl from a large Irish family who spends a summer on the coast of Wexford with childless “foster” parents John and Edna Kinsella. For the first time in her short life, our protagonist is lovingly nurtured and encouraged and included. We never learn her actual name but know her through the kind endearments the Kinsellas use for her: leanbh (“baby girl”), Petal, good girl, girleen. In her crowded home in Clonegal, she is called “you” ...more
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Every sentence carries weight and every image is relevant. Great stuff.
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
'Early on a Sunday, after first Mass at Clonegal, my father, instead of taking me home, drives deep into Wexford towards the coast where my mother's people came from.'

She wears light, worn clothing and brings nothing with her. The girl is left with the Kinsella family, the father returns to her mother, soon to give birth again. There is no goodbye or word of when he might return. This is Ireland. Remember Nora Webster and all that is unspoken?

So begins Claire Keegan's long, short story Foster, a
Brenda Cregor
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing

This story is simple.
Simple language.
Simple characters.
Simple plot.

No graphic horrors.

The genius of this short story
[ and, though it is in "book form", that is what it is]
lies with its surprise ending.

I was surprised I did not want the girl to return to her parents.


There were no clues that she had been abused or neglected
[beyond the "neglect" that comes to any child in a large family] by her biological parents.

It is true her family was very poor, but there is no particular
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What an absolutely beautiful, scintillating gem of a book – 96 pages of pure perfection. If I was to recommend a book to all of my friends, both avid and reluctant readers, it would be this, described as a “long, short story” rather than a novella.

Winner of the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award in 2009, Claire Keegan has excelled herself here, in a long story which was originally published in a shorter form, in The New Yorker. Without giving away too much of the plot, our narrator, an unnamed
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
For a short book,it packed an enormous punch. I loved the writing. I loved the story of this young girl who is pawned off on relatives with no explanation. She learns what it means to actually be cared about by these relative strangers. The ending left me wanting more yet it was a perfect ending. Highly recommend this book.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A really short but beautiful book. My mom grew up in rural Ireland, and the language / phrases in the book remind me of her as she uses some of them too.
Aisling O'Rourke
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
----Spoiler Free Review----

‘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’

Foster by Claire Keegan is a story set in Ireland in rural Wexford, in the 1980s. It tells of a young girl who is fostered to the Kinsella family over the summer months. This story is based on the juxtaposition of her life with her own family, and of that with her foster family. It is a
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I found this book very warm, yet a little confused as I progressed through the story. As I moved from page to page I had so many questions for the little girl, and then found I had so many questions for both set of adults.You start by looking through the childs eyes of the world around her and see how detached she is from the whole situation. I began to wonder how many children are in the house altogther, why did they send her with nothing only the clothes on her back. You begin to move to the f ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ireland, orphan, fiction
This book was short, but intense and unforgettable, giving readers a view of Ireland's foster care system and of a little girl who manages to find a second chance.
J. O'Brien
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read in a long time. It's not a long story, more of a novella really but that doesn't matter, it's as long as it needs to be.

Keegan tells her story with restraint, honesty and a sense of truth that is refreshing. She does not intrude on the narrative with a showy voice, or stylistic verbosity, she simply lets the story unfold as it needs to. I admire this greatly. She allows the characters and their world to live and breath.

This is what Literary fiction is made for.
Jennifer B.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This moving little novella about a quiet little girl who isn't entirely wanted by her family really spoke to me.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This 88-page long story is set in rural Ireland, in an unexpectedly warm summer of 1981, when the protagonist, 8 year-old girl arrives to stay with a foster family. After the summer spent with the new family, things will never be the same for her any more.
I liked the subtle mysteriousness in the narration, through which Keegan leaves questions opened without explicitly explaining. At times the realistic background blurs into Gothic.The themes intertwine gently, and the author lets us imagine an
Teresa Mills-clark
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the books I bought while in Ireland by an Irish author.

Poignant. It caused me to smile and sigh and shed tears.

Here's a quote to mull over:

" 'Ah, the women are nearly always right, all the same,' he says. 'Do you know what the women have a gift for?'
'Eventualities. A good woman can look far down the line and smell what's coming before a man even gets a sniff of it.' "
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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

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“Many's the man lost much just because he missed a perfect opportunity to say nothing.” 11 likes
“Eventualities. A good woman can look far down the line and smell what is coming before a man even gets a sniff of it.” 3 likes
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