Highbridge Audio. Nov. 2022. 1:26 hrs. ISBN 9781696604901. $8.99. F
First published in 2010 and now available in audio, Keegan’s (Small Things Like These) breathtaking award-winning novella illuminates the story of a young unnamed Irish girl who is sent to stay with distant relatives while her mother prepares for the birth of a child. Narrator Aoife McMahon channels Keegan’s spare, powerful prose, describing how the girl is dumped at the Kinsellas’ farm by her rough father, whose parting words are, “She’ll ate, but ye can work her.” The girl, who is brave and curious and observant, gratefully relaxes into her new life, where she is bathed, dressed, and invited to participate in the rituals of daily life. The simplest activities—drawing water from the well, gathering herbs from the garden, selecting sweets at the candy shop in town—are imbued with meaning and fairly glow with love and humanity. McMahon provides simple but not overdone characterizations, distinguished by slight changes in tone, pacing, and pitch. She allows the spaces to come through, never rushing, and delivering the words with precision and care.
VERDICT Though brief, this deeply affecting novella is not easily forgotten. An exquisitely narrated audio that should appeal to fans of Alice McDermott’s Child of My Heart.
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