Every girl should know what the finishing touches are.When I started reading this book, I had absolutely no idea what 'finishing schools' are about (in my defence, I'm not from the UK and this concept doesn't exist in my country) and when I learned about them in the book, the feminist in me was so enraged that I honestly nearly gave up on the book after like 50 pages - I just couldn't handle reading about a finishing school in the modern times ... But then I figured I might as well try reading some more and see what happens - about 50 pages later, I started loving this book so much that I just didn't want to put it down and ended up totally loving it!
That dash of gloss on the cheekbones to lift your complexion.
High heels for poise, and a luscious lipstick for the perfect pout.
It’s the spritz of perfume on the pulse points and the...
....ability to stand on your own two feet?
When 21st century girl Betsy is called in to rescue an exclusive finishing school from financial ruin, she knows she must change the school drastically, if it’s ever to survive.
So it’s out with debutante decorum and in with modern manners and man-management.
But before she can teach the girls how to walk in high heels, Betsy may just have to remember how to wear them herself.
With the added bonus that her gorgeous friend Jamie and the surprisingly hunky bursar Mark both seem to rather approve of her new stilettos...
The story opens on 21 July 1981, when a baby is found in a marmelade box in front of the Tallimore Academy, an exclusive finishing school in London. The baby is brought to Lady Frances Tallimore, whose husband owns the school, and she names her Betsy and she's determined to give her the best upbringing possible.
The next chapters opens 27 years later at the funeral of Lady Frances. We learn that Betsy grew up at Tallimore Academy, but wasn't 'allowed' to take classes with the other girls, which hurt her so much that she moved to Scotland and completely turned her life around.
After the funeral, Lord Tallimore tells Betsy that the academy has gone through some rough times and he asks her to have a look around and maybe propose some changes - he thinks Betsy is a management consultant when in fact she manages a shoe shop.
Nonetheless, Betsy takes up the challenge. She moves in with her best friend Liv and comes up with some great ideas on how to bring the Academy more up to date and start some new classes that might appeal more to the modern girls - she thinks it's time to ditch Table Etiquette and Literary Appreciation, and instead she decides to bring in classes on how to deal with money, look good in photos, park properly, wear the right things, walk in heels and a whole lot of other practicall skills that a modern woman needs to know.
There are a few twists and turns and I'm sure you can smell a love story from a mile away, but that's roughly it without giving too much away.
Oh and there's also the sub-plot of Betsy searching for her birth mother, which was quite touching and it didn't end quite like what I expected - which is a good thing, because I had a far more corny ending in mind, heh.
I'll admit I wasn't blown away by the plot as such, but what really made this book were the characters and the writing. Betsy wasn't really the most exciting character, but others certainly made up for it! This book had me hooked as soon as I 'met' the current pupils of the Academy - this quote sums them up quite well (p. 151):
[Jamie] pretended to rub his hands like a Victorian maiden-abductor. 'Tell me more. What delicious young debutantes are currently being finished?'
'Well, at the moment, there's Clementine the Goth, Divinity the footballer's daughter, Anastasia the Russian squillionaireness and Venetia, the ...'
I wasn't sure how to describe Venetia. I suddenly realised I didn't know much about her at all, other than that she had her hair extensions done at Richard Ward and that she didn't carry cash.
'The trainee Bond girl,' I finished.
As soon as I was acquited with this lovely bunch, I knew I was in for a fun ride, haha.
Honestly, most of the characters were absolutely adorable - I loved Liv, Jamie, Mark, Lord Tallimore and others, what a fantastic set!
As I mentioned before, the writing was also brilliant - beautiful and oh so witty, especially the dialogue had me cracking up all over the place! This was the first book I've read by Ms Browne, but it certainly won't be the last!
All in all, in my humble opinion, this is chicklit at its best and I had SO much fun reading the book! The story and the characters and the writing just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and you'll just want to hug this book as it's just too damn adorable for words. If you don't believe me, you can certainly trust Sophie Kinsella, the queen of romcoms, who blurbed it saying, 'What a delicious, entertaining book. I loved it!' - I couldn't have said it better myself!
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 4/5