The Forever Girl is a stand-alone novel set in The Caymans, Scotland, Melbourne and Singapore. Its locations are exotic and include McCall Smith’s beloved Edinburgh, its theme of love everlasting, simple but universal.
The heroine of the story, Clover, is a young girl who falls in love with her best friend, James, at the age of six. She remains in love with him and it is this unrequited love that shapes her life as she grows older. It is James who haunts her every thought from childhood and James who has ruined every other man for her.
Clover and James’s mutual childhood friend,Ted, had also been in love with James and understands Clover’s dilemma of what it is like to desperately love someone who can only offer friendship in return. However, Ted eventually does find happiness with someone else and moves on with his life. On the other hand, Clover knows in her heart, that she will always be incomplete without James, despite trying hard to pretend otherwise.
Clover’s mother, Amanda, has a functioning marriage and is not in love with her husband. Amanda’s chance encounter with George, James’s father, gives her a chance for passion in her life. She finds George’s dedication as a doctor admirable and is unable to resist his company, despite the scandal it would cause in the small social circle of the expatriate community in the Caymans. Amanda denies herself the reality of an affair and never will know what happiness may have been, had she and George acted upon their mutual attraction. The genuine friendship they enjoyed with each other is eventually sacrificed for the sake of their respective families. Settling for subdued acceptance of the status quo, Amanda chooses the safe path of familiarity, her marriage, instead.
Unlike her mother, Clover cannot imagine life without the man she loves. She plans her life around places in the world where she might catch a glimpse of James. They both lead very different lives that do not involve coming across each other. They become involved with other people, but Clover still harbours an irresistible desire and determination to see James, to the extent of being in danger of behaving like a stalker. Clover’s overwhelming love for James means that her life will always be incomplete without him.
The theme of friendship permeates, as is McCall Smith’s intention, throughout the novel. It is a thread that links Clover to James, her parents to each other and her mother to James’s father. Childhood friendships span continents and, ironically, it is someone with no concept of real friendship who unintentionally helps Clover finally find the answer for which she has been looking all her life.
McCall Smith paints a picture of enduring love and the importance of having the courage to embrace it despite the possibility of disappointment and rejection. Like all his novels, it reads with insight and elegance. His profound interest in the interaction between people results in dilemmas that go to the very essence of what it means to be human. Like all his other books, The Forever Girl is a very good read women everywhere will identify with and enjoy.
You Can Pick Up a Copy of “The Forever Girl” at:
* Prices were correct at time of publication but are subject to change by the retailer.