‘Foster’ by Claire Keegan – A Stay with Her Aunt and Uncle


‘Foster’ by Claire Keegan    (2010) – 92 pages


At the beginning of ‘Foster’, a young girl, perhaps 6 or 7 or 8, is being driven by her father to the farm home of her mother’s sister and her husband Kinsella. Her parents have packed a suitcase for her, so she knows she will be staying there for awhile. Her mother is expecting, so maybe that is why she will be staying with this couple she hardly knows.

How long should they keep her? Can’t they keep her as long as they like?”

In a novella written from a child’s point of view, the author must make sure that the child doesn’t know any more than what that child would know. Of this Claire Keegan is keenly aware. We know that ‘Foster’ takes place in rural Ireland. We are not given any exact details as to when the story takes place. The story could easily have taken place during my childhood. It could have taken place during anyone’s childhood. The story has an eternal feel to it.

This aunt and uncle treat the girl well, and soon she starts to compare her life at this new place with her life at home. She has no idea of how long she will be staying. Perhaps it is permanent.

I won’t be revealing any more about this novella. This is a very quick read as opposed to some novellas which slow you down to savor.

On the cover of my copy of ‘Foster’, there is a quote from the author David Mitchell: “As good as Chekhov”. That still seems to me like an audacious thing to say. However Claire Keegan is a mighty fine writer. And she, like Anton Chekhov, understands that what your characters don’t say is sometimes more important than what they do say and what the author doesn’t write is sometimes more important than what the author does write.


Grade:   A



8 responses to this post.

  1. Glad you enjoyed this one Tony, I think it is a mini masterpeice.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. It’s a shame we can only read this story online if we sign up for spam from the New Yorker.
    I shall have to wait until my library gets a copy.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. […] Tony at Tony’s Book World […]



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