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The Finishing Touches Paperback – Bargain Price, March 23, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Reprint edition (March 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416540083
  • ASIN: B0057DAN7U
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A delicious, entertaining book!" -- Sophie Kinsella

About the Author

Hester Browne is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Little Lady Agency in the Big Apple, The Finishing Touches, and Swept Off Her Feet. She lives in London and Herefordshire with her two Basset hounds Violet and Bonham.

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Customer Reviews

I really loved the character of Betsy.
skrishna
The author, Hester Browne, was able to evenly balance the story with humor, human emotions and many character types without getting bogged down.
Gail Rodgers
As a Brit Chick Lit fan, her books are to die for!
J. Conlon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By cmp VINE VOICE on July 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really wanted to love this book. I love Brit chick lit - set a story in London and you've got my interest immediately. And there is nothing horrible about this book, but there's just not very much going on at all.

Betsy is sweet. Bone-deep sweet. It's easy to like her, but there's just not much more there. She's not terribly funny, she's not tragic, she's not even really struggling financially or anything interesting. There are hints that her personality changed some at 18, but it sounds like she went from being much more fun to pretty boring, and since the book is set in the "now", well...

In fact, NONE of the characters have an edge of any sort. The best friend is a little flaky, but not ridiculous. The 18 year old girls at the finishing school might act edgy, but are really sweet underneath. There is no villain - or, if there are supposed to be, in the current headmistress or a former pupil/femme fatale - they are so mild as to not cause any real worries.

Betsy's search for her birth parents is lukewarm at best. I think she's right about her "new classes" (I'm trying not to give anything away that's not in the blurb on amazon.com here) but even that doesn't lead to a ton of conflict.

There's a bit of a romance, but it's nothing torrid, depressing, or funny.

The dialogue is well-written, the settings are well-drawn, the characters are easy to picture, the writer's grasp of grammar and good writing style are there - which is worth the 3 stars to me - but there's just not enough plot or emotion going on. I don't normally love what I'd call "book club books" full of depression, or at the least self-conflict, but I would have still preferred that to this. I don't know even how I'd describe this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth G. Melillo VINE VOICE on June 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Not, mind you, that I ever was able to do more in Harrod's than visit the expensive toilet - but, since the abandoned baby of the first page is left in a Harrod's marmalade box, I thought it an appropriate reference. :) The wit and cleverness of this delightful book made it a treat I gobbled down quickly, with laughter, wistfulness at times, and occasionally deep compassion.

Hester Browne's gift for expression is superb. The descriptions are subtle but exceedingly humorous. There also is an underlying fact, which would have affected the upper classes even more than most, that London has changed immensely in the past twenty years, and that, even at the time of the 'marmalade box baby,' the customs described were preserved by few. Images of women in 1980 learning Victorian customs about how to accept and decline marriage proposals and dine with royalty are a hilarious contrast to their counterparts just two decades later.

Incidentally, some of the advice from the finishing school is not a bad idea at any age.

The book is a cut above what normally falls into the 'chick lit' category. It has an underlying, subtle wisdom that rises it above the usual fare. Few authors in that genre have Hester's ability with the language - and of capturing much of human nature, warmth, weakness, and hope in the process.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BostonJen VINE VOICE on October 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really enjoyed this story; it captured me right from the beginning, but that may be just because I really wish I had been dropped off at a finishing school as a baby. I love the ladylike advice strewn through the story. This is my first Hester Brown book, but it will not be my last. She has a nice flowing tone to her writing. Great for relaxing on the couch!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Gruver VINE VOICE on August 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is very, very nice. Betsy, the main character, is nice. Her best friend Liv is nice. Even Liv's playboy brother Jamie is nice. The financial guy Mark is nice. Betsy's adoptive parents are nice. Betsy's birth family is nice. The main plot (saving the finishing school) is nice.

Unfortunately, nice can be boring. I genuinely liked Betsy and the book, but it did take me a long, long time to complete it.

There is very little conflict in the plot, and the conflict that does exist seems artificial. For example, it seems that the head mistress of the school and Adele (a former student) are undermining Betsy's efforts.... However, they have no reason to do so, and the head mistress has two very good reasons to help Betsy: the school's owner is Betsy's father, and the school will fail unless something is done. (Adele should also want to befriend Betsy for her own reasons, which are explained in the novel.)

Aside from the lack of genuine conflict or edgy characters in the book, it has another problem that is a bit more subtle. The author cannot decide exactly who Betsy is:

Is she the daughter of a wealthy aristocrat? If so, she should not feel in any way socially below the students, and yet she does. Why does she work for years as an assistant manager in a shoe store? Why does she worry when that job is in jeopardy?

Were her adoptive parents loving? Betsy seems to think so, yet she never was brave enough (even when her adoptive mother was dying) to ask questions about her adoption. In addition, Betsy seems to lack basic self-confidence; for example, she defers to the head mistress constantly, even though she is the daughter of the owner and he has told her to run the school.
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