The Forever Girl

The Forever Girl

Book rating: 04 Hardback

By (author) Professor of Medical Law Alexander McCall Smith

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  • Publisher: Pantheon Books
  • Format: Hardback | 316 pages
  • Dimensions: 142mm x 208mm x 20mm | 386g
  • Publication date: 11 February 2014
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0307908259
  • ISBN 13: 9780307908254
  • Sales rank: 59,626

Product description

The author of the best-selling and universally adored No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series now gives us "The Forever Girl, "a novel about love and following one's heart, and the unexpected places to which this can lead us. Amanda and her husband, David, feel fortunate to be raising their son and daughter in the close-knit community of ex-pats on Grand Cayman Island, an idyllic place for children to grow up. Their firstborn, Sally, has always listened to her heart, deciding at age four that she would rather be called Clover and then, a few years later, falling in love with her best friend, James. But the comforting embrace of island life can become claustrophobic for adults, especially when they are faced with difficult situations. At the same time that Clover falls in love with James, Amanda realizes that she has fallen "out" of love with David . . . and that she is interested in someone else. While Amanda tries to navigate the new path her heart is leading her down, Clover finds, much to her dismay, that James seems to be growing away from her. And when they leave the island for boarding school--James to England and Clover to Scotland--she feels she may have lost him for good. As Clover moves on to university, seldom seeing James but always carrying him in her heart, she finds herself torn between a desire to go forward with her life and the old feelings that she just can't shed. Through the lives of Clover and James, and Amanda and David, acclaimed storyteller Alexander McCall Smith tells a tale full of love and heartbreak, humor and melancholy, that beautifully demonstrates the myriad ways in which love shapes our lives.

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Author information

Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, the 44 Scotland Street series, and the Corduroy Mansions series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served with many national and international organizations concerned with bioethics. He lives in Scotland.

Customer reviews

By Marianne Vincent 06 May 2014 4

The Forever Girl is the third stand-alone adult novel by Scottish author, Alexander McCall Smith. New Yorker Amanda meets Scots accountant, David, they fall in love and marry. David's work takes them to Grand Cayman, where they live among other ex-pats, Caribbean islanders and native Caymanians. They have two children: Sally, who renames herself Clover at four years of age, and Billy. Australian Alice and English doctor George live nearby, and their son, James goes to school with Clover at Cayman Prep. Clover and James are firm friends from day one, but as they grow up and Clover finds herself falling in love with James, Amanda realises the reverse is happening between her and David, and she is attracted to James's father George. As events in their lives (parental separation, boarding school, University) see them drift apart, Clover is unable to dismiss her feelings for James, yet lacks the courage to speak of them because she knows he does not share them. As McCall Smith takes the reader from Cayman to Edinburgh to Melbourne and finally to Singapore through several decades of Amanda and Clover's lives, he touches on many themes additional themes besides the main one of unrequited love: the concept of one true love; falling out of love; asking others to be a party to deceit; self-control vs repression; jealousy; obsession and irrational behaviour; private passions; platonic friendships; and guilt about inequality. As always, McCall Smith fills his novel with gentle philosophy as he tells his tale at a (perhaps too) sedate pace. McCall Smith has a well-honed expertise with the female protagonist, uncannily able to express what women think and feel. On God, Clover tells Ted "If it were a woman, she wouldn't make things so hard for women". He also gives them plenty of words of wisdom: on love, Amanda tells Clover "It's the one thing, though - the one thing - that you just can't be rational about. And I think that's because love is fundamentally irrational - so how can you be rational about something that doesn't make sense?" and about communication "We imagine that people know what we're thinking, and they don't. We misunderstand one another" Clover is a slightly frustrating heroine: she is given so much good advice that she ignores to her peril, yet the reader will not begrudge her the (fairly predictable) happy ending. Classic McCall Smith.

Review quote

"What may seem like an ordinary love tangle is a very rich stew of contemporary mores and a great stage for both comedy and heartbreak." --"Booklist "(starred review) "Touchingly conceived. . . . In the end we see that love unfulfilled still makes a difference." --"Library Journal" Praise for Alexander McCall Smith: "McCall Smith's generous writing and dry humor, his gentleness and humanity, and his ability to evoke a place and a set of characters without caricature or condescension have endeared his books to readers." --"The New York Times" "McCall Smith's novels are beautifully precise and psychologically acute." --"The Independent "(London) "A vivid observer and an elegant writer." --"The Plain Dealer" "A virtuoso storyteller." "--The Scotsman" "A writer who charms many readers . . . McCall Smith's characters are well-drawn and alive." --"Providence Journal" "McCall Smith's accomplished novels [are] dependent on small gestures redolent with meaning and main characters blessed with pleasing personalities . . . These novels are gentle probes into the mysteries of human nature." --"Newsday"