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A pastiche of life in rural Ireland.

Foster - Claire Keegan

I read the New York Times version of this book, rather than the "revised and expanded version" mentioned in GoodReads. At £4.29 for less than 100 pages this must be one of the most expensive Kindle books I've come across, so I declined to purchase the Amazon version.

It was chosen as a book group read by one of our Irish members and she certainly related to it as a taste of her youth and upbringing. I was raised in England and not in a Catholic community, so it was less familiar, but quite engaging all the same. The nameless eight-year-old girl who is shipped off to stay with relatives for the summer while her mother gives birth to her fifth (?) sibling, is quite charming and asks very little from her hosts. She expects to be put to work and is endearingly pleased to find herself cherished in a way that she had never experienced in her own family.

There are various day-to-day events that build up to a way of life that is beautifully illustrated, Behind the scenes lurks a past event that colours the lives of the foster parents, but not in such a way as to make our heroine uncomfortable. The most distressing part is the farewell, when she returns to her family for the new school year.
I suspect that this scene would have been reworked in the expanded novella because it was quite strange in my version and none of us were quite clear what actually happened.

I'd like to read the full version at some point, maybe my library can order it. It would be interesting to see what has been added and how it affects my understanding and interpretation of the story.