TCL’s #NovNov22 #1 – A Different Home.

Book Review for “Foster” by Claire Keegan.

Summary: 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.”

Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Women, Fiction; Settings: Contemporary; Rural Ireland; Other Categories: Novella.

Foster

As my regular readers already know, I was blown away by Claire Keegan’s recent novella “Small Things Like These” which is one of my favorite reads of 2022. That little book made me into an immediate fan, and I was really hoping it would win the Booker Prize. Sadly, it didn’t, but no matter – I still loved it. So, when I was in the UK recently, on one of my many visits to book stores, and I saw this on the shelf, I just HAD to buy it. Now this little story was originally published in 2010, but it was apparently part of some collection. The copy I bought (pictured here) was actually released this year as a stand-alone (I don’t think that makes it eligible to be considered a “new release” book for that reading challenge, though). But now I see that apparently, it was made into a movie (not fully in English) called “The Quiet Girl.” Well, I looked at the trailer and… while it looks really lovely, I think I’d rather not watch it.

You see, when you read something really beautifully written, something which gets into the mind and heart of a character, it will always be hard to translate that into film. Well, at least not without a voice over, which always sounds so fake to me. But all of this is neither here nor there, since you want to know what I thought of this novella, and here’s my short answer: I loved it. Now, to the long answer as to why this isn’t getting 5/5 stars.

Look, I can still love a book and not award it 5/5 stars, and I have my reasons why I do this. The main reason why I knocked this down to 4.5 is because when I finished reading the book, I wasn’t sure I understood the ending. I actually re-read that page about half a dozen times and started flipping back a few pages to see other passages, before I finally said “oh… wait… um… OH… okay, yeah… OK!” Now, maybe I’m stupid, but I’m not normally confused by an ending. Not that it wasn’t a good ending, because it really cut the story at exactly the right point. Anything else would have reduced the impact of this novella. But… it just took me a little bit by surprise. Mind you, a surprise ending is almost always a good thing, so perhaps smarter people than I will be totally wowed by this ending.

The other reason why I didn’t give this 5/5 stars is that although I quickly grew very fond of our main protagonist here (who doesn’t really have a name), I also felt a bit distanced from her at the same time. So, when the ending came, I wasn’t sure what to feel about her. I did begin to imagine a whole slew of “what if” ideas regarding her future, which means that I cared about her, but I wasn’t sure where she would be better off – back with her biological family, or with the foster couple. So, while this story made me sigh, it didn’t make me cry.

But what really impressed me here, once again, was just how beautifully Keegan writes, and with such precision where each and every word is just right. I mean, I’ve often said that a well-written short story is a joy to behold, and this novella is so perfectly written, so packed with emotion, that I don’t know if joy is a good enough word to describe how much pleasure I got from reading this book. I’m now a devout fan, and I’m going to buy some of the books of short stories that she published before this. However, admittedly, her most recent novella is my favorite. I’m guessing that until she comes out with something new, that will probably be the case. Even so, I’m also positive I’ll enjoy her other works no less than I did this one, which I’m very warmly recommending to anyone who appreciates exquisitely written, literary fiction.

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Foster“Foster” by Claire Keegan is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Blackwell‘s, Foyles, The Book Depository UK and Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK and Wordery US, Kobo US (eBooks and audiobooks), the website eBooks.com, Booksamillion.com, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from Bookshop.org and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you.

This novel qualifies for the following reading challenges: Novellas in November 2022 (#1).

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15 thoughts on “TCL’s #NovNov22 #1 – A Different Home.

  1. I loved the ending, in the end, like you, after reading it a few times in an attempt to fully understand what was happening and to absorb the emotion that spilled out. I suspect I will be rereading both Foster and Small Things whenever I need a pick-me up. Not that either of the books were necessarily happy, but they were hopeful and full of kindness, and we all need some of that at times 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I must be one of the few people on the planet, who didn’t love Small Things Like These. I thought it was ok, but not amazing. Most likely I won’t pick up Foster. Glad you enjoyed it despite the confusing ending. Sometimes, confusing endings can be super-annoying, other times they make you think, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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