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The Forever Girl Hardcover – February 11, 2014

3.2 out of 5 stars 251 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Until roughly 15 years ago, with the breakaway success of his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, McCall Smith was a professor of medical law and ethics at the University of Edinburgh. His training in and fascination with ethics, especially concerning lying and deception, are much in evidence here. This stand-alone novel could almost be used as an extended case study on the staggering effects any lie or deception may have, no matter how seemingly justifiable. On the surface, the novel is a contemporary love story, actually two, or maybe one and a half, since unrequited love is a big question mark throughout. The two points of view are those of a tennis mom and her teen daughter, who live in the tax haven of Grand Cayman Island. Both mother and daughter confront the kind of passion that McCall Smith presents as just happening, like the weather. But then what happens? The fascinating core of the book tackles this question, with McCall Smith tracing choices, zeroing in especially on the mother’s choices and their unintended consequences. The fallout is heightened by being entirely believable. The novel moves from Grand Cayman to Scotland and then to Australia and Singapore without losing focus. 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. --Connie Fletcher

Review

“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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First American Edition edition (February 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307908259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307908254
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (251 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a big fan of Alexander McCall Smith, I really loved the majority of this book. However, without giving it away, the ending was unexpected but not in a good way. It just felt incomplete and abrupt, like he got tired of the dynamic tension throughout the book. As another review said, the behavior of James, the lifelong childhood friend and target of Clover's unrequited love, at the end is inconsistent with his previous behaviors. I was hoping to love the book and was hoping for a nice surprise at the end, but it fell flat. There are so many other more interesting ways the author could have ended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Disappointing as Smith`s novels go...the behavior of James throughout the story is not warranted in the ending...I was expecting his hesitancy to be explained by his mother telling him that Clover`s mother had an affair with his father...loved all of Smith`s previous works but this one is flat.
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By Helen Adams on February 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought Clover's obsession with James was simply annoying. There was nothing in Jame's character that warranted such devotion and as a result the ending felt very flat to me. I did enjoy the discriptions of Cayman and Scotland and the juxtaposition of the two areas. Normally I am a fan of Mccall Smith but this book disappointed me.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a great fan of Alexander McCall Smith, but I was disappointed with The Forever Girl. It suffers from too much repetition, with the same points being made over and over again. The ending was syrupy sweet and not at all realistic. I had the terrible feeling that the author went on a trip to the Caribbean and had to justify the expense by writing a short novel about the place. Talk about phoning it in.
You would be better served by rereading some Jane Austen.
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Format: Hardcover
Alexander McCall Smith is one of my favorite authors but this book was disappointing. As always his own beautiful character and philosophy of life together with his elegant words are a delight but I found the story of Clover and James to be totally unrealistic. All of the characters, with the exception of Amanda, and possibly Ted, seem to be contrived. It is difficult, even for the most romantic reader to accept their behavior except as a complete fantasy. Perhaps I am alone in this opinion.
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Format: Kindle Edition
A young girl falls in love with her neighbor when they are both 12 years old. He never treats her as anything but a friend in return.They go to boarding schools in different countries at age 14, then attend college in different counties as well. Over the years between ages 14-22, she sees him only 4 or 5 times. They rarely correspond, and he never treats her in any way other than as a brother treats a sister. He even tells her that she is like the sister he never had. Despite this, she spends a huge amount of her time obsessing about how much she loves this guy. If someone has had only 4 or 5 short public contacts with someone over 8 years of time, they can't possibly know the person anymore, especially enough to love the person more than anyone in the world. She makes makes no effort to get close to anyone else, or follow any personal dreams. She just obsesses about how much she loves this guy, and how much she wishes he loved her. When the ending come, what happens is totally implausible. Then, after the implausible thing occurs, the book ends with all the details left up in the air. This is one of the most irritating books ever.
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I am a diehard, Alexander McCall Smith fan. Why? Because I love his skillful, philosophical meanderings about the human heart and all its conditions. Plus, I like his character developments and the settings of his novels. However, this tale was disappointing and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone not familiar with this Scotsman's writing.

The story details, endlessly and a bit too laboriously, the mental machinations of an American-Scottish girl, as she grows up on Grand Cayman, adored, privileged and prone to a myopic, expat's view of life. She's cute, alert and madly in love, from the age of six, with a neighbor boy who she doggedly pursues, in their teen and early adult years and on three continents, in fact. A rather loose plot centers on the girl's endless and over-wrought angst about her unrequited love. Mixed up in the story line is her mother's own struggle with life and love, as she moves through the mundane routine of an expat wife's life, trapped in a loveless marriage and in the rather inbred confines of island, expatriot life. Both mother and daughter play off one another nicely, bearing witness to the fact that love is not easy but is the main reason most people spend decades, seriously maintaining a family and intimate relationships. McCall Smith offers much philosophical insight, which is his signature theme-building intent, in all of his tales.

However is this later novel of Mr. Smiths', the plot was very thin, compared to a dense, pedantic narrative about the heart and mind of a maturing girl, poised on the cusp of adulthood. In fact, the detailed descriptions of the girl's pursuit of her childhood sweetheart becomes almost boring, as not much else seems to happen in the way of interesting plot.
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