London, Faber, 2010, 88p
The emotion and drama in this story crept up on from out of nowhere, taking me completely by surprise. What began as a seemingly simple but beautiful novella about family left me in tears.
In Foster, a young girl is left by her father with her aunt and uncle. With no explanation and no idea when she might go home, she quietly settles into life on her relatives' expansive farm. Mr and Mrs Kinsella love her dearly, raising her up, teaching her to read and keeping her clean.
Back home, it is implied that the girl is one of a large family and her parents were unable to take proper care of her - they are a rather typical Irish family. But her aunt and uncle have no one but themselves to care for, except a tragic secret they try to hide about a little boy they once had.
The story is told through the eyes of the little girl, who struggles to become attached to these alternative parents, calling them "the woman" and "Kinsella". Over time, she begins to let them into her heart, learning to feel comfortable in a loving embrace or simply holding hands. This is not a dark mystery novella, as the blurb suggests. Rather modestly, it is a sad tale about loss and love.