The Forever Girl – Alexander McCall Smith

I’ve never read anything by Alexander McCall Smith, but I do know he penned the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. Perhaps I should have started with one of those.

The story is likeable enough. Clover and David are the children of ex-pats living on the idyllic Cayman Islands. They’re thrust into friendship from a very young age –  inevitable when you’re parents move in the same social circles of a small community. Clover grows to become infatuated by David, who remains steadfastly aloof, even following him to university and halfway across the world in a bid to win his affections.

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This book is beautifully written, which makes me think that perhaps the author was simply out of his depth.

For example, for a very good chunk of the book I couldn’t work out what time period this was actually supposed to be set. Since there were no references to anything real teens living in our century may do, i.e browse the net, Facebook, etc it led me to believe it must have been BWWW (before the world wide web), which made me feel slightly more forgiving …UNTIL…there was a reference to Clover checking ‘the Facebook’ to see what David was up to  maybe three quarter of the way in.  THREE QUARTERS OF THE WAY IN!!! I think the average teen/young adult checks their phone (again no reference to that either) perhaps 20 times a day! I felt the main premise of the novel could be solved say 20 pages in if the author had been following the conventions appropriate to the time period- a sage reminder to do some simple research, especially if you’re writing in a period you may not be that familiar with.

The characters were also oddly unappealing. I did not care for any one character, and found I didn’t really care what happened in the end. Clover was strange and slightly creepy, Amanda her mother, self absorbed. David was OK but just a peripheral character.

I must say I was left completely befuddled by this book – has this ever happened to you?

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2 thoughts on “The Forever Girl – Alexander McCall Smith

  1. Hmm, interesting. Alexander McCall Smith is an older dude so he probably doesn’t understand social media and what ‘the facebook’ really is. I always wonder how things like this get through editing? Or whether it was actually through the editing process that the reference got added and therefore isn’t in his voice. Either way, I hate starting a novel not knowing the time period!

    I’ve read some of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. They’re cute!

    • I heard the same about that series! I must read one at least.

      I know I was wondering the same thing. Wouldn’t the ed be able to fill him in if he’s not sure? I did get the impression from THAT job interview with the publisher that they’re also not ‘of the times’ shall we say.

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