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The Forever Girl | [Alexander McCall Smith]

The Forever Girl

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2014 Alexander McCall Smith (P)2014 Recorded Books

What the Critics Say

"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)
"Touchingly conceived.... In the end we see that love unfulfilled still makes a difference." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.1 (66 )
5 star
 (11)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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2.9 (60 )
5 star
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Story
3.7 (58 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Rio Delta Wild Harlingen, TX 02-16-14
    Rio Delta Wild Harlingen, TX 02-16-14 Member Since 2004

    I enjoy mysteries, NOT thrillers, contemporary fiction, especially about diverse cultures, and sometimes history, if it doesn't involve too many dates. I often listen to a book multiple times, discovering unnoticed details in the retelling.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Comic relief? Too much tension."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I'd ask the esteemed Mr. McCall Smith to add in some of his comic irony to decrease the unending sense of tension.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The excellent description of the lives of the rich who live in Cayman. For those of us who touch down on cruise ships, this side of life is invisible.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The narration was okay, but not outstanding in any way.


    Was The Forever Girl worth the listening time?

    Yes, it was. But if you've not read this author's other works, I'd suggest any of the other titles. This was my least favorite.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Kiss 03-10-14
    A. Kiss 03-10-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Boring, don't bother (sorry, AMcCS)"
    Would you try another book from Alexander McCall Smith and/or Susan Lyons?

    I'm a big fan of Alexander McCall Smith, love all his Botswana and Scotland series. I would certainly read the next book in any of those series, but not sure I would chance another "free-standing" book


    Have you listened to any of Susan Lyons’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I like her reading overall, but she doesn't make any distinction at all for the voices various characters (male and female) except for the occasional American accent. Everyone else sounds exactly the same.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Boredom


    Any additional comments?

    Nothing of any interest happens in this book. It's just endless rounds of frustrated love among characters who are not sufficiently interesting to care much about. Page after tedious page of a teenage girl moaning over the fact that the boy she loves doesn't love her, or she thinks he doesn't but she can't bring herself to ask... I guess we're supposed to appreciate how the daughter's love live (or lack thereof) mirrors her mother's, but all it says to me is that they share the same annoying character flaws. Mr. McCall Smith's books are always rather slow paced, of course, but I usually don't mind as the characters are richer and there is an actual plot line, such as a mystery or unexpected developments. I'm finishing this book just because I almost always finish books that I start - not because I could care less about whether Clover eventually winds up with James or not...

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wobbly WNC USA 02-24-14
    wobbly WNC USA 02-24-14 Member Since 2013
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    "I'll be returning this one"

    I am such a fan of the Ladies' and Dalhousie series, but stopped listening to this one after a few chapters. Don't like Mom or her paramour, despite their noble inclinations, and other reviewers don't paint a hopeful picture for Clover and James. So, following my motto of 'Life is too short to listen to irritating books' - I sadly throw in the towel, even though the author is A.M. Smith and I think I could easily be a fan of this narrator.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Moss Beach, CA, United States 05-11-14
    Scott Moss Beach, CA, United States 05-11-14 Member Since 2009

    Wine, food and travel writer, editor, and aspiring novelist.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "By Love Obsessed"

    I've read or listened to all of Alexander McCall Smith's adult books, and this one stands apart in its repetition and lack of humor. In tone it reminds me of Scott Spencer's Endless Love, or the novels of Anne Tyler. We suffer the protagonist's obsession for hours, only to be handed a shockingly abrupt ending. The scene we eagerly anticipated throughout the book finally arrives, we wait to see what the main character will say and do, and suddenly a curtain is drawn over that pivotal, life changing moment, and we find ourselves on a beach, with the protagonist and her mother, engaged in a banal conversation that adds nothing to the story. How disappointing!

    Nonetheless, along the way we're treated to a few of McCall Smith's philosophical asides, insights into human character, and the nature of romantic love. And Susan Lyons does a wonderful job of narration, handling a number of English accents with subtlety and grace.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judie Campbell, CA, United States 08-22-14
    Judie Campbell, CA, United States 08-22-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    5
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    "Don't waste your credits"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    An entire new story line. I could not even care about the people in this book. I could not wait until it was over. I almost didn't finish it, but I kept saying its got to get better. Sadly it didn't.


    What could Alexander McCall Smith have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I have read many novels by this author and have enjoyed them. I don't think anything good help this book.


    What character would you cut from The Forever Girl?

    All of them and start with brand new characters


    Any additional comments?

    I should have read the reviews first

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Toby Portsmouth, NH, United States 02-20-14
    Toby Portsmouth, NH, United States 02-20-14 Member Since 2014

    Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bits of the AMS we all love, but lacking in the en"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No, probably not. As someone who has read all of AMS's work (except for the number one detective series), this one fell flat. It was almost as if he didn't write it. I shudder to think he would have a factory of writers, but still ..


    Would you recommend The Forever Girl to your friends? Why or why not?

    No. See above.


    Which character – as performed by Susan Lyons – was your favorite?

    I cannot say that I hd a single favorite.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No, but then I do not go to films.


    Any additional comments?

    I was very excited when I saw this listed and how lovely and long it was. I forced myself to keep listening, thinking it would improve. It did not. It had none of the charm of the 44 Scotland Street or Corduroy Mansions series. Or even the Sunday Philosophers. It did not sound like the author's voice.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benedict 02-17-14
    Benedict 02-17-14 Member Since 2014

    Benedict

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    "So, so remarkable!"

    How on earth does A M McCall do it?

    He starts the book on the Cayman Islands and goes on from there. I suppose he visited the Islands for a vacation for three or four weeks and from that was able to weave another fabulous story of insights into human nature. He picked up the flavor of the Islands and the humanity that lives there.

    The bonus is that the book is longer than Mr. Smith's other books so there is that much pleasure in listening to it.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty B. 02-16-15
    Betty B. 02-16-15
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    3
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    "Abject failure"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If it were written with any of the author's usual insight, humor, and character development-- but alas, it was inexplicably boring and trite, even though the new Cayman Island setting had potential interest. I have dozens of books by AMS and love them, but this one is a stinker! Reads like a 6th-grader's first love musings. I'm really worried that this is the beginning of the end of an excellent author. Has he had a stroke or illness? It is so unlike his established narrative voice.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Alexander McCall Smith again?

    Well I certainly won't BUY a new book without an initial listen and some reviews first. I'll need to determine if Forever Girl is just a disasterous one-off that got through editing on the basis of his well deserved and respected prior body of work, or if this is who he is now.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The story was so bad I didn't care.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Forever Girl?

    All the romantic musings of the main stick people (can't call them characters), it was embarrassingly immature and saccharin. Bottom line here is this book should never have been published, it's that bad.


    Any additional comments?

    Please, somebody, don't let work this bad see the light of day again. What he's already accomplished is monumental, perhaps best to stop at a high point.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sofie 02-09-15
    Sofie 02-09-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Not my favorite AMS book!"

    I usually love his books, but this one became tedious about half way through. I had a hard time concentrating on this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erwin Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada 01-27-15
    Erwin Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada 01-27-15 Member Since 2007
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    "Disappoinying"

    Disappointed, the story ended so simply without much of a plot. The author could have made several different plot twists but chose to write a straight forward rather boring story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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