The Forever Girl was March’s selection for my book club and is the first book I’ve read by Alexander McCall Smith. I’d been meaning to read something by McCall Smith for a while and a stand-alone story was a good starting point.
One of the most striking things about the book was his writing style: the novel is written in the third person. I found this quite interesting as you felt like an outsider looking into the lives of the characters. However, the descriptions were wonderful and really painted a good picture. I really enjoyed the various settings throughout the novel, particularly the depiction of the Cayman Islands as almost a boring paradise.
The overarching themes of the novel are love & loss and the relationship between childhood, adolescence and adulthood. The pacing of the novel increases dramatically as the main character, Clover, gets older. I felt this reflects the way that life feels, with things seeming to move much quicker the older you get.
The novel also raises an important question: how long do you hold out for love? I feel the idea of having a ‘forever girl’ or a ‘one true love’ is slightly toxic, despite being a lovely ideal. During her teenage angst I felt quite sympathetic for Clover, as she waits for James to notice her. However, as time went on, I found her pining to be quite irritating, as she was seeming to build a relationship out of very little physical evidence, whilst letting opportunities pass her by.
Overall, I found most of the characters to be quite one dimensional and I was more interested in the lives of the supporting characters: the likes of Ted, Margaret and John. I wish that McCall Smith would have fleshed out these characters a little more, although I understand why he didn’t. These characters gradually become less important to Clover and her mother as time progresses, so they get described in less and less detail.
I did find the ending a little disappointing as it felt quite abrupt and wasn’t quite the ending I would’ve liked. Despite this, The Forever Girl was certainly an interesting read and raised some important questions about how we love and how we live our lives.
My music choice is a track by Gabrielle Aplin and Nina Nesbitt – Miss You 2. Hope you enjoy as much I do 🙂