Volatile Rune

For Life and Literature in a Volatile World

Claire Keegan’s ‘Foster’: A Review

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I have read and reviewed 7 of my 10 books of summer.

My #8  book is an unexpected joy– and not on my original list because I didn’t know it existed –Claire Keegan’s Foster.  This novella, or long short-story of only 87 pages, loaned to me by a friend, is more akin to poetry than prose.  All the usual reviewing clichés about ‘perfect jewels’ and ‘small miracles’ must surely apply to this work, which I loved and cannot recommend highly enough. It is so beautifully written.  The main thought I was left with was ‘I wish I could write like that’.  And I truly do. I shall certainly be looking for more things to read by this author.

Set (presumably) in mid-twentieth century Ireland, a young girl is sent to live with relatives as her mother is having another baby.  Free of her abusive father,  in the new house the girl discovers affection and a quality of life she hasn’t known.  A poignant story set over the course of a single summer, which like all summers, must come to an end.

Foster by Claire Keegan


“Downstairs, she fetches the zinc bucket from the scullery and takes me down the fields.  At first I feel uneasy in the strange clothes, but walking along I grow that bit easier.  Kinsella’s fields are broad and level, divided in strips with electric fences which she says I must not touch – unless I want a shock. When the wind blows, sections of the longer grass bend over, turning silver.”


I am nearly there with my ‘10 Books of Summer’ reads which is hardly anything to boast about as I know many bloggers are doing 20.  Still, ‘miles to go before I sleep’ and all that.  And I have included The Silmarillion so therefore count myself in the top echelons of Those Who Persevere (a) because it is a hard book to read and (b) because nearly everyone is dead by the end.

I have read again the first book of the Earthsea Chronicles, The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin despite having read and reviewed it comparatively recently.   I seem to be craving fantasy just now.  Maybe because reality is too tough.  Not that the Silmarillion characters exactly have an easy time of it.

I am going to Crete in September (can’t wait) and I am on the hunt for holiday reading so I shall be visiting as many of my friends blogs as I can over the next week.

I am swopping a couple of books out of my list of 10.  Instead of Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit I shall be reviewing Sarn Helen: A Journey through Wales, Past, Present and Future by Tom Bullough, published by Granta.  I was going to save this for read Wales week but hey – some things won’t wait and just sit there on the shelf going ‘read me, read me!’

My final book I have not yet decided. Originally it would have been the Ikeda/Henderson dialogue Planetary Citizenship (Middleway Press).  I will still read and review this book, but I’m not sure I can do it justice before the September 1st  cut off date.  How can it be 11th August already?

Claire Keegan’s Foster is #8 of my 10 Books of Summer.

2 responses to “Claire Keegan’s ‘Foster’: A Review”

  1. Hi Frances, By coincidence, I was reading this last week too! I loved it – apparently it’s been adapted into a film – The Quiet Girl – I’m really keen to watch it. I also enjoyed Keegan’s novella Small Things Like These. Every bit as good. I’m sure you’ll love it!


The Volatile Muse

Poetry, literature, film and all things in between

Runes are ancient scripts, magical signs for secret or hidden laws.   I chose a name which I felt brought to mind the infinitely variable nature of the written word.


The Volatile Muse

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