Title: The Finishing Touches
Author: Hester Browne
Release Date: June 9, 2009
Genre: Chick Lit
Source: Amazon Vine Program
Rating: 4.75 out of 5
From the publisher’s website:
Twenty-seven years ago, an infant turned up on the Academy’s doorstep, with a note tacked to her blanket by an elegant golden brooch — Please take care of my baby. I want her to grow up to be a proper lady. Loved by Lady Frances Phillimore and her kindhearted staff, Betsy grew up aspiring to be an Academy girl. But when Franny and her husband, Lord Phillimore, advise Betsy to instead hone her considerable math skills at college, she brokenheartedly leaves behind the only family she’s known.
Now, on the sad occasion of Lady Frances’s memorial service, Betsy comes back to find the school in disrepair, the enrollment down, and Lord P. desperate to save his legacy. Enter Betsy, the numbers genius, and her business plan — to replace dusty protocol with the essentials girls need today: cell phone etiquette, eating sushi properly, handling credit cards, choosing the perfect little black dress, negotiating a pre-nup, and other lessons in independent living.
But Betsy may have bitten off more than she can chew. Can she win over the school’s snobby headmistress and its handsome but risk-averse treasurer? Returning to London also means facing her own unfinished business, as she crosses paths with her sexy girlhood crush…and blowing the dust off clues to a lifelong mystery: who were her parents, and why did they abandon her? If knowledge is power, Betsy is on the brink of truly becoming her own woman, and embracing the one thing she’s wanted all along: a place to call home.
I wasn’t entirely sure about The Finishing Touches when I first selected it for review from Amazon Vine, but I thought I would give it a try. I love British chick lit, and though I’d never read anything by Hester Browne, I’d certainly heard good things about her books. After reading it, I have to say that I am so glad I gave it a chance – if I hadn’t, I might have missed out on one of my favorite reads of the year!
I really loved the character of Betsy. She was incredibly complex – on one hand, Betsy feels like she isn’t living up to her family’s legacy, but on the other hand, she doesn’t feel like she is part of the family at all. She is afraid that she isn’t good enough to be a Phillimore. On top of that, now that her beloved adoptive mother has passed away, Betsy feels the urge to continue her mother’s legacy at the same time she discovers the need to find her birth mother. She is full of contradictions, but in a really appealing way. I loved the way she was written and am impressed with Browne’s ability to develop characters. I feel like she shows off her amazing writing talent in The Finishing Touches.
Part of the reason I enjoyed The Finishing Touches so much was because of the storyline. In addition to her personal journey, Betsy is also trying to save her mother’s finishing school. I love books in which a character comes in to save a struggling business and manages to do so competently by the end of the novel. I feel like it adds a completely new dimension to the book, giving it some additional depth. I was glad that through this, Betsy was able to show off her intelligence. Also, I was completely satisfied with the conclusion – I felt like Betsy’s effort were realistic. There was no magical infusion of cash or unbelievable makeover. I very much appreciated this part of the novel.
I highly recommend The Finishing Touches, even if you aren’t a fan of chick lit. It has so much more than the average novel of that genre. This book is clever, witty, and a joy to read. I can’t say enough great things about it, and am looking forward to reading Hester Browne’s other novels!