BOOK REVIEW: The Finishing Touches
Hester Browne originally leaped to popularity with her Little Lady series (The Little Lady Agency, Little Lady; Big Apple). The books were excellent, hilariously and wonderfully written, demonstrating the obvious charm that makes Browne's books such perfect, unputdownable reads. So when I received a copy of her latest book, The Finishing Touches, I was intrigued. The plot of this latest tale sounded very interesting, and I couldn't wait to settle down and start reading. Could her work get any better?
Yes. It definitely can.
The Finishing Touches focuses on Betsy, a modern girl hailing from the Tallimore Academy a high-class finishing school that she practically grew up knowing about, having been abandoned on the school steps as a baby. Adopted by Lord and Lady Tallimore, Betsy longed to join the girls in the enchanting classes but was never allowed. Now in her twenties, Betsy has returned to the Academy after the death of Lady T to discover that the school is for young ladies is in a terrible financial state. With the Tallimore Academy being Lady T's life and the couple having had no other children to take on the family business, Betsy makes a promise to herself and the late Lady T - her elegant, kind and graceful adoptive mother - that she will try and rescue her pride and joy, no matter what it takes.
The Tallimore Academy was one of the most prestigious charm schools in its heyday, but Betsy can't help but think their teachings are a little outdated. While Betsy herself is dealing with boyfriend problems and all the hassles of modern life, the Academy's few remaining pupils are still being taught about tea party etiquette and other social situations that aren't exactly applicable in today's world. What the place needs is a curriculum makeover, if Academy has any chance of lasting another year.
With Betsy teaching, along with some friends, they get to work training the Tallimore Academy into a 21st-century finishing school, combining Lady T's old-fashioned, upper-class ideals with modern, realistic tips such as how to manage mortgages, motors, and men. Her young, very rich (yet misguided) students are quick to learn more. As a pilot scheme, the school is working well, yet it's now down to the matter of convincing London's society parents that the new, improved Academy is the place to be.
Can it be a success?
Meanwhile, Betsy is becoming ever close to discovering the truth about her birth parents - a secret she's been waiting all her life to reveal. Betsy knew that she was found in a box on the school doorstep with nothing more than a note and a necklace. A romantic tale itself. But who did it belong to? Betsy's mother had to be a girl at the school, but who?
The Finishing Touches is such a witty, addictive read that I finished it in one go. It was fun to escape to a world the of upper-class London finishing school, and Betsy's modern take on the old ideals made the book such a sweetly delightful read. I couldn't put it down, and in actual fact, loved this more than I loved The Little Lady Agency (though all of Hester's books are great!) I would definitely, definitely recommend this.