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Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys: A Novel Hardcover – June 1, 2004

3.7 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Hollywood lawyer concocts a powerful new weapon in the war between the sexes in this spicy Tinseltown satire from Garcia (Matchstick Men, etc.). The fun begins when Cassandra French, a movie studio lawyer, anesthetizes three of her would-be paramours, then locks them up in her basement. There she conducts "finishing school" courses to transform them into perfect gentlemen. All goes swimmingly until French is asked out by beefcake movie star Jason Kelly, only to discover he was using her to set up a lawsuit against her studio. French gets revenge by abducting Kelly, but the plot twists come fast and furious after he accidentally electrocutes himself, leaving her to dispose of the body. At the cheeky climax, French's gorgeous, air-headed yoga instructor friend takes the finishing school concept in a startling new direction. French's penchant for great one-liners is matched by Garcia's imaginative plotting and his dead-on satire of life in L.A., Hollywood and the movie industry. The oddball conceit makes this novel an unlikely winner, but Garcia has crafted a quirky, pedal-to-the-metal satiric romp that remains fresh, likable and funny from start to finish.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It had to happen sometime. Chick lit has gotten so popular that now men are writing it, and with somewhat predictable results. Cassandra French's story starts off in typical Bridget Jones fashion. She chronicles her bad dates, her overbearing mother, her boring but well-paid job, concerns about her weight, and her shopping sprees. Then the book gets a shot of testosterone. It turns out Cassandra hasn't been taking her bad dates lying down: she has been kidnapping the guys, locking them in her basement, and training them to be better dates. Her "finishing school" is going marvelously well until she starts to fall for both a famous actor and the brother of one of her captives. What starts out as a very entertaining read begins to drag toward the middle of the book but stays amusing throughout. A good choice for those getting a little tired of the genre but still wanting a light read. Marta Segal
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060730315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060730314
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,742,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. Joe TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"The last fifteen years of failed dates, the boys with wandering hands, the boys whose hands didn't wander enough, the ones who left and the ones who wouldn't let me leave. They didn't deserve to walk into a room with Cassandra French on their arm."

Thus, with that dysfunctional experience with male-female relationships in her past, 29-year old Cassandra French, employed in the business office of a Los Angeles movie studio, proactively sets out to mold three young men with promise - her "boys" - into the New Age men they could be, replete with polished manners, polite language, sensitivity to a woman's needs, chivalry, and good fashion sense. Cassie has kept Owen, Alan and Daniel chained to cots in the basement of her Westwood home for months, alternating behavioral modification "lessons" with doses of calming morphine. (I've lived in SoCal for five decades, and have never been in a home with a basement. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, my Dad built a bomb shelter under our garage - but that doesn't count.)

CASSANDRA FRENCH'S FINISHING SCHOOL FOR BOYS is, believe it or not, a remarkably comedic novel. Author Eric Garcia pulls this off by making his heroine decidedly unhinged, but not cruel or even unkind. Indeed, she reads her charges bedtime stories, tucks them in at lights out, entertains them with games and a regular "movie night", keeps them properly fed, and fully intends to release them back into the world once they "graduate". But things begin to unravel when she "enrolls" in her school a famous actor who'd seduced and bedded her for uncommonly selfish and boorish reasons. Once under restraint and in her control, he subsequently dies in a freak accident involving chains, manacles, electric current, and yoga.
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Format: Hardcover
Nearing thirty, Hollywood studio attorney Cassandra French constantly grades herself on six courses: Personality, Looks, Physical health, Mental health, Career, and Relationships. Her scores will vary in the first five courses depending on her situation, but she is a drop out when it comes to relationships as she has found men to be shallow and self indulged when they are sober; when males are drunk they become obnoxiously shallow and self indulged.
Tired of dating groping alcoholics, Cassandra has a good time attending a baseball game with Owen until the seventh inning stretch when beer consumption takes effect. Cassandra locks the drunken Owen in what she now calls her kennel. When he becomes an obedient canine, she brings him two companions, Alan and Daniel as students at her finishing school for changing slobbering male dogs into caring gentlemen. Movie star Jason Kelly takes Cassandra out, but she learns he is using her to sue her studio. Irate, Cassandra abducts him, but he is a moron unlike his three litter mates as he kills himself by electrocution.
Eric Garcia pays homage to the chick lit and hunk lit tales by skewing the sub-genre with this fabulous satire that stuns readers when they realize that this is not another sensitivity quest. Cassandra is amusing as she seems the prototype keeping up with the chick lit Jones until the audience realizes that her boys waiting for food in her basement kennel are not dogs, but human males. The support cast that include her "boys", her employer, and her two pals especially the yoga queen enable Cassandra to star as the queen of the ironically anti-chick lit romp.
Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
On first glance, this novel appears to be yet another book of the "chick lit" genre: protagonast Cassandra French faces professional and personal woes in modern day LA. However, there are several surprises in store, with the first being that this book was actually written by a man. In his author's notes, Eric Garcia explains that he is "surrounded by women," suggesting why he may have written a novel which would appeal mostly to females. Yet males may be drawn into this book as well given the black comedic elements revealed within the first few pages. It seems that Cassie has become so fed up with the opposite sex that she decided to kidnap a few "boys" and train them to become men (hence the title). Strange? Definitely. Funny? Well, yes, that too.
The exploits of Cassie and her friends--street smart Claire and bimbo Lexi--are humorous enough, and the story is certainly engaging. However, the plot elements were a bit TOO bizarre for me at times, from Cassie injecting the boys with morphine to keep them docile to her diasterous involvement with a top movie star. And of course, there is the happy ending: although this is par for the course in most popular fiction, the sweetly perfect conclusion seemed rather out of place here. To be fair, I must admit that I have never been a fan of black comedy, which mostly likely tainted my view of this novel. If your tolerance for dark laughs is as low as mine is, you will probably find, as I did, that the more morbid aspects of this book detract from its humor.
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Format: Hardcover
I am not sure how this book managed to get so many 5 star reviews. I typically reserve the 5 star rating for books I truly think are great. This was not one of those books (at best I found this book to be bizarre).

The story revolves around Cassie (who is not 29 by the way -- you other reviewers were not paying attention!!!) On the surface, Cassie is your typical single chick-lit heroine. She's single and looking for love. The book deviates from traditional chick-lit beyond this. It seems that Cassie is not satisfied by the quality of available men so she sets out to reform them. She is a domestic dominatrix of sorts. Basically, Cassie kidnaps 3 full grown men, locks them up in her basement and for the most part they seem grateful to her for it. At some point in the book she manages kidnap a fourth but he ends up dead and by that point her friends get dragged in to the mess. There is no way that anyone could ever find this plot to be believable. Some reviewers seem to like that about this book. I like to escape from reality just as much as the next gal but this was more of an escape into mediocrity.

Beyond the book review I will add that if you plan on reading this book anywhere outside the confines of your own home, you may want to invest in a book sock. Let's put it this way... there is a picture of a man licking a woman's boot on the front cover. Bring this into your workplace lunchroom and you will attract the office [...] for sure!
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