The Forever Girl

The Forever Girl

Large Print - 2014
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"At age 4, Thursday chooses her own name. At age 6, she falls in love with her best friend, James, with whom she happily spends all her time. But in the adult world, things are not so simple: at the same time that Thursday's mother finds she's fallen out of love with her husband, she realizes that James's father is interested in her. As the children grow into adulthood, their connection becomes more complicated as well: James drifts away from Thursday, but she keeps him in her sights: she attends the same college in Scotland and then follows him to London, Sydney, Singapore, rebuilding her life in every city, hoping each time that James will see what he is missing. As Thursday and James, and their parents, navigate their irresistible but baffling mazes of emotion, we are given a beautifully realized tale about how love, even if unrequited, can shape a life."--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Random House Large Print, c2014.
ISBN: 9780804194402
Characteristics: 400 p. (large print) ; 24 cm.
Subjects: Large type books.
Best friends -- Fiction.
Families -- Fiction.
Interpersonal attraction -- Fiction.
Man-woman relationships -- Fiction.
Cayman Islands -- Fiction.


From the critics

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Jul 11, 2019

I'm a big fan of Alexander McCall Smith which is the only reason I gave this book one star. It was such a disappointment and should be retitled The Forever Whining Stupidest Super-Privileged Girl!!! In hopes of it getting better, I plowed through it but it never did. Don't waste your time!

Mar 30, 2017

I'm a fan of this author so had to read this novel. The setting is beautifully depicted in both Grand Cayman and Scotland. You find yourself travelling there, meeting people, experiencing everyday life. The intertwining love stories are well-written, it really moves along. However, I found the ending completely implausible. It could have been developed further, explained further, perhaps had the characters making sense of their previous misunderstandings. To me it felt like a false ending.

Jan 09, 2017

Okay, I read it, finished it, but why? Guess I just wanted to see where it was going. Nowhere actually. And my question is why in the world did McCall Smith include all that dreary info about Amanda and Dr. Collins and their friend John. And why did he introduce the bit about the kids spying on their parents and seeing Ted's father burn up a piece of paper, get arrested then drop that whole tangent. Seems sloppy writing to me to introduce threads that never weave together and contribute to the story.

Jan 19, 2016

The Forever Girl is the parallel story of Amanda & David and Clover & James. Amanda and David have been married for quite a while; they're in their 30s and have two kids and a comfortable life in the Cayman Islands. One day Amanda realizes that she's simply fallen out of love with David. There's no acrimony; just apathy. At the same time, Amanda's daughter Clover realizes that she's in love with James, the "boy next door." (He's actually a few doors down, but they've grown up together and he's just that wholesome "boy next door" type of guy.) Amanda meets James' father one night for drinks, and almost goes too far, but doesn't. Clover and James go off to different boarding high schools and lose touch. Amanda doesn't divorce David, but does move to Scotland.

It sounds like a lot to keep track of, but it's really not. Really, the story is mostly Amanda and Clover as they negotiate some pretty complicated feelings for the guys in their lives. The chapters don't alternate evenly, but they do switch back and forth from Amanda's point of view to Clover's and back again.

I was at first uncomfortable with what seemed like it was going to be a book ok'ing marital infidelity. But then Amanda stopped herself! I was pretty stoked about that. I mean, I was sad that she felt that she and David needed to separate, and that she should move so far away. But I was glad that infidelity didn't really seem like an option for her (or David, although it's never truly confirmed as what he was up to while she was living in Scotland). You might know by now if you follow my reviews that I also get excited about books with somewhat normal, supportive family units. Amanda and David never completely divorce, and they are both super supportive of their kids. Amanda and Clover remain close throughout the whole book.

I became uncomfortable through the latter half of the book with Clover's obsession with James. Even though they go to separate boarding schools in separate countries, she doesn't ever date anyone else. She's just pining away for James... who may or may not even remember she exists. Then comes college. They actually end up at the same college, by chance, but in separate degree programs so they never run into each other. Clover continues to pine. After they graduate, they both go off on "gap years" and live, again, in separate countries. (She in Scotland; he in Australia. Can't get much farther apart.) And guess what? The pining continues. By the end of the book, I was actually pretty fed up with Clover. I didn't find it romantic or cute that she would go to such lengths of angst for this guy. They hadn't really hung out in person since they were preteens! And yet she grows into a full adult still so friggin' fixated on him that she's disrupting her life in pursuit!

One thing Alexander McCall Smith does really, really well is setting and atmosphere, and The Forever Girl is no exception. Even if I did get frustrated by one of the characters, I was 100% hooked in the book by the setting. First the warm, sunny, vibrant, colorful Caribbean. Then the muted grays and greens of cooler Scotland. And finally, the hot, wide-open Australia. I could practically feel the mugginess of the Caymans and see the gray of the ocean in Scotland. I actually really loved the housekeeper/nanny, Margaret, employed by Amanda and David. She's Jamaican, and a transplant to the Caymans. She's got great spirit and spunk. I'd have liked to have even more of her in the book!

Overall, I give The Forever Girl about 3.5 stars out of 5. Not head over heels with the plot, but definitely loved the atmosphere. I don't regret a minute spent reading it, but I can't think of anyone to recommend it to.

Jul 28, 2015

a surprise read... very different subject and style than his other books. Literary and smart, yet accessible.

Nov 25, 2014

This book is a disappointment to me. I've loved all the books McCall-Smith had written till this one. Usually his characters have such depth and complexity, the language of the story is so rich. The characters in Forever Girl however, are so mundane and have an unexamined life (or rather a very self-centered examined life). Boring.
Very surprised that such an excellent author published such a piece of fluff.

Apr 01, 2014

I read everything by McCall Smith with great joy but this story might be better suited to young adult fiction. Simple teen love story without much depth and the setting is just as flat.

Mar 31, 2014

*** stars 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 her new path, 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. **** I am a huge fan of McCall Smith's series. I liked this stand-alone novel because of its excellent character development and understanding of love for both children and adults. Sweet story of forever love in a young girl. Recommend!

Mar 09, 2014

Not what I thought a McCall Smith book would be about, but very good just the same. The twists and turns the story takes are very Interesting and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good story. Try it!!


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Mar 30, 2017

That was the most painful thing about separation, she felt: the ending of the very small things, the ordinary sharing, the unspoken reliance; removing one's toothbrush from the bathroom was as big a step, in a way, as making an appointment with the divorce lawyer.
(p. 140)


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