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The Finishing Touches

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  3,322 ratings  ·  292 reviews
In "New York Times" bestselling author Hester Browne's delightful new novel, a fading English finishing school is about to get a twenty-first-century makeover. Out with white gloves and flower arranging, in with managing mortgagesand do-it-yourself manicures! Behind this remarkable transformation is business-savvy Betsy Phillimore, with her own unique connection to London' ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by Pocket (first published May 21st 2009)
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3.5 STARS.

I came to this novel after falling in love with Browne's The Little Lady Agency series which is, IMO, top-notch, feel-good chick-lit-with-substance. Truth be told, I might have picked up "Finishing Touches" anyway because I think the idea is just so darn appealing. I love the idea of a 21st century 27-year-old carving out her future by trying to preserve something of her past in the presumably archaic finishing school her adopted parents ran for many years. Yes, there are memories in
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If you liked Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro, then you will love this story about English manners in the modern world. A little bit fantasy, a little bit real-life that, in the end, folds into a modern fairytale.

I loved Hester Browne's first book The Little Lady Agency though the follow-ups didn't seem to be able to maintain the magic of the first book. The Finishing Touches was a chance for Hester Browne to cover similar ground in a different way.
May 17, 2010 Ann rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Sophie Kinsella, sweet chick lits and british romantic comedies
A most enjoyable book and simply fun to read!

From the back cover:

"Twenty-seven years ago, an infant turned up on the doorstep of London's esteemed Phillimore Academy for Young Ladies. Now, Betsy Phillimore returns to the place where she was lovingly raised by Lord and Lady Phillimore, only to find the Academy in disrepair and Lord P. desperate to save his legacy." What ensues is not only Betsy's attempts to rejuvenate the dusty Academy (dusty in it's antiquated courses, and dusty in that it is i
I wish I had a chance to receive instruction from Betsy. She has a wonderful mix of traditional and current skills that women should learn. Some skills make life more pleasant (good manners, how to dress appropriately for any occasion, how to uncork champagne, etc.) while others are more survival oriented (parallel parking, walking/running in high heels, budget management).

This book is also a tale of self-discovery, learning the meaning of family, and of a young woman who uses her strengths to b
Katie Hutchison Irion
I have to say, I was a little disappointed with this book. Maybe I expected too much from it because of how much I adore the Little Lady Agency books. Maybe I just missed Honey. Maybe I shouldn't have read it in snippets on vacation. Maybe I shouldn't have read it after finishing Fablehaven and loving it. I don't know what it was but this was okay for me. I think I would really give it 3.5 stars.
The story is about Betsy and her desire to find her real mother (she was left in a crate on a finish
May 31, 2011 kari rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
I always like the heroine in Hester Browne's books. They are smart and capable and not silly, which I like since senseless heroines tend to bug me quite a bit.
Infant Betsy was left on the doorstep of a London finishing school on the day of the 1981 Royal Wedding. The story picks up 27 years later as Betsy's adoptive mother who ran the school has recently died and the school is in serious financial trouble.
Betsy, who always wanted to attend the school but wasn't allowed, steps in to try to help s
The Finishing Touches was a perfectly enjoyable read, even if it did seem formulaic in its execution. We've got our down and out heroine, a handsome but flirtatious friend that she's trying to keep herself from falling for (we all know how well that will work out in chick-lit land), her best friend and a potential love interest. Throw together birth secrets, a finishing school to save, bratty students and voila, this book is formed.

Betsy returns from Scotland to attend her adoptive mother's fune
Ms. Smartarse
I really liked The Little Lady Agency series, so I was quite excited to read a new book by Hester Browne.

The story starts out quite similarly to The Little Lady Agency, a girl from a noble family has had a traditional upbringing, that she hasn't really made use of. Until now, when she needs to remember all her skills ASAP, to save her home, the finishing school. As a bonus feature: our heroine was adopted, and clues point to her mother having been a student at the school. So obviously this "help
Cute, fluffier than fluff book about a twenty-something woman who returns to the London finishing school she grew up in to save it from certain ruin. The setting is unique and the helpful hints sprinkled throughout are good fun. The writing is crisp and fast-paced. I found the four current students annoying but that is clearly the point. Unfortunately, it just meant that all four blended together and not a one stood out. I did not enjoy any scene where they were displayed prominently and wish th ...more
Amy Chang
Sep 21, 2009 Amy Chang marked it as time-s-summer-picks-2009
Sophie Kinsella picks The Finishing Touches by Hester Browne

The Finishing Touches is a charming and funny novel about Betsy Phillimore, who was found as a baby on the steps of an English finishing school. Now that she's grown up, she comes back to save it and give it a 21st century revamp. Out with white gloves and fish knives; in with snappy, savvy essentials for modern girls. I loved all the pieces of advice and scribbled a few down! There are some great characters, and the story is entertaini
I wanted some light chick lit to read as a pleasant distraction during a busy time, and this fit the bill. However, I don't like when I have to re-read sentences in a book several times over again to get what the author is saying - and that happened throughout this one. I read 'til the end though, and I'll quit before that if I get too irritated. So these kinds of books have a formula, and that's partly what makes them comforting. This one didn't follow that as closely as I would've liked though ...more
Jessica N.
I actually really enjoyed this book! It was quite clean - no F-bombs! - and no sex. It had the perfect amount of femi-Nazism for me, too. The writing was solid and flowed nicely, and the plot was good. It was just a touch rushed at the end, and I wasn't sure if she ended up with the "right" guy, but that's just me. I'd recommend this to my friends if they're in the mood for a non-thinking, fun, "beach" read. I'll read more from this author.
Two-and-a-half stars, really. The premise is promising, updating a finishing school to meet modern young women's needs. It's the type of school I often wish I could have attended. Unfortunately, the story weakens as it goes along. The many of the characters aren't terribly well developed; how much does she like Jamie for the man he is now, or are her feelings more for the teenager she had a crush on as a girl? Why were the established figures in the school so reluctant to change when it was obvi ...more
Jenn Estepp
Slightly too long (Editors! Please step it up! And, writers! Please listen to your editors), but overall very enjoyable. This is classic chick lit, and I mean that in a good - even great - sense. As a baby, Betsy was left on the doorstep of a London finishing school and subsequently adopted by the owners, Lord and Lady Phillimore. As an adult, she returns to Edinburgh following Lady Phillimore's death and attempts to modernize the school and ensure it's relevance (does it have any relevance?) in ...more
Actual Rating: ***1/2

Although this story of an English finishing school makeover and a young woman's search for her parents dragged quite a bit in the middle, I was interested enough to plow through to the end.

Opening Lines:
29th July, 1981
Mayfair, W1
Deep in the discreet matronly bosom of Mayfair, Halfmoon Street hid the last remaining secret of London society.

On math...
I tried hard at school, knowing how expensive the fees were, and was popular enough, given that my best subject was mat
This was a really fun story that was both entertaining and sweet.
Betsy was left on the doorstep of a London Finishing School for girls while still an infant. Luckily for her she was adopted by the Philemores and grew up there among the wealthy students. Now at 27 she is back to attend the Memorial for her adopted mother Franny and possibly sleuth out who her real parents may be. Not everything goes according to her plans, however, and she soon finds herself figuring out how to keep the School o
Sara (smb+jab)
The Finishes Touches tells the story of Betsy Phillimore, who was left on the steps the Phillimore Academy, a finishing school for girls as an infant and taken in by the owners, Lady Frances and Lord P. The story itself begins twenty seven years later when she returns to the academy for Lady Frances memorial service, the only mother she ever knew. Quickly she is drawn into taking on the task of saving the school her mother so dearly loved, from its current state of disrepair.

The story itself wa
This book focuses on Betsy Phillimore, a women that was left as an infant at the doorstep of the Phillimore Academy for Young Ladies, a finishing school. She was adopted by the academy's director Lady Frances "Franny" Phillimore and her husband Lord Pelham Phillimore and was taken care of by much of the staff at the academy. Betsy spent most of her childhood in the academy watching young women learn to be "ladies" but she was never allowed to join the academy herself. Instead, she was sent off t ...more
Reviewed by Lissa Staley
Posted May 16, 2009

Women's Fiction

Betsy Phillimore has been lying to her parents. They believe she works as a successful management consultant when actually, she manages an upscale shoe boutique.

After Betsy's mother dies, her father admits that the family business is in trouble. Enrollment at London's Phillimore Academy for Young Ladies has been decreasing steadily. Lord Phillimore invites Betsy to take a look around in a professional capacity and try to save the schoo
Princess Diana attended one and as did English actress, Minne Driver. It's called finishing school- an institute of learning i.e. learning social etiquette and top notch manners.

Set up in the 1980s by the Phillmores to teach young English women how to be the perfect party hostess, how to wear pearls and essentially, nurture them to be Jackie Onassis. However when an unwanted baby, Betsy is left on their doorstep in a marmalade box, the Phillmores instantly step in to offer a different type of n
Abandoned on the doorstep of the Phillimore Academy in London some twenty-seven years earlier and raised as a daughter by the academy owners, Lord Pelham and Lady Frances Phillimore, Elizabeth (Betsy) Phillimore has returned to the Academy due to the death of Lady Frances. Never an “academy girl” Betsy received her education elsewhere, sharpening her math and survival skills, and has been laboring as a clerk/bookkeeper in a shoe store in Scotland. She has never corrected her family’s mistaken as ...more
Betsy was left on the doorstep of the Academy 27 years ago. The Academy is a finishing school for girls in London. Betsy is raised by the Philimore's and the Academy staff, surrounded by the Academy and all it stood for and taught the girls. When she was old enough to attend the Academy herself Lord Philimore sent her off to college instead. Betsy leaves and doesn't return to the Academy until Franny Philimore's death and memorial service. Now, back Betsy finds the school in disrepair, enrollmen ...more
Read mid November 2013
3 Stars
This one was okay, the writing was good, the story was reasonably entertaining and I read it all the way to the end.
But yeah, not one of my favourite chick lits.
I think it was all just a bit too so so for me.
The main character was likable but not overwhelmingly so, the story was reasonably entertaining but certainly not on the edge of your seat stuff - the main plot conflict and the romance both never really grabbed me. In fact, the romance didn't grab me at all, to
Nicole Kirkley
I ate this book up in one day! Its what I have been missing! I adore the Little Lady Agency Series. I adore how Hester creates a woman just like any other and gives her the inner strength to stand on her own two feet. I also enjoy how Hester shows appreciation to Manners, Etiquette, love of home, caring for others, fashion and other topics - without being an absolute slave to them. I think it shows that a woman can take care of her home and those she loves, without encouraging the "barefoot and ...more
Dropped off as a baby at the Phillimore Academy, one of Britain's finest finishing schools, Betsy spent the first eighteen years of her life aspiring to the social graces of her adoptive mother, Franny Phillimore. When, at the age of eighteen, she was pushed in to the world on her own, she turned away from etiquette and manners, focusing instead on her degree and career. However, when Franny's death brings Betsy back to London, she discovers the Academy near financial ruin. At the request of Lor ...more

Reason for Book Selection: I selected this book at the same time that I selected the last two books in the Little Lady Agency Series.

Plot: In the 1980s, Baby “Betsy” Philmore was left on the doorstep of London’s last finishing school, and in the late 2000s, she returns for her adopted mother's funeral and stays to save the school from almost certain failure.

Characterization: The protagonist remains consistently emotional but not overly whiny throughout, and most of the other characters are als
I am a little torn. It was not a bad book, just it was not my type of book at all. The theme didn't interest me, the searching for the mother was lacking in action for me, the narration was maybe nice but didn't awoke any interest. I was not curious what is going to happen next. I felt there is nothing going to happen, and actually that's true. I was ecxpecting a little more, a little drama perhaps, what with the mistress of the school planning something or stealing money...OK, I guess it is not ...more
Lily Reviews
One of the things I love about Hester Browne's books is that her her heroines are smart. Her stories don't rely on the sorts of silly misunderstandings that could be cleared up in moments if everybody just sat down and talked it through. Betsy Tallimore (I assume it's changed in the US version, as some reviews refer to Betsy Phillimore) was dropped on the doorstep of the Tallimore Academy, London's finest finishing school, 27 years ago. Now her beloved adoptive mother has died, and it's up to Be ...more
Jen B
Jul 14, 2009 Jen B rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
Women used to go to London's Phillimore Academy to learn how to become proper, well-bred wives. But in the 21st century, the Academy's lessons are more than a little outdated -- girls are more interested in texting their friends or in gossip about the hottest parties than in learning how to make swans out of meringue or how to balance books on their heads. Enter Betsy Phillimore, the adopted daughter of the Academy's owner, hired by her father to try and save the Academy from financial ruin. Wit ...more
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Can NOT WAIT!!!!! 1 26 Mar 21, 2009 05:50AM  
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Hester Browne was born in England's Lake District, read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, and worked as a fiction editor before leaving publishing to write full time. She enjoys Scottish reeling, driving, baking, and trawling eBay for estate sale bargains. She doesn't enjoy hot weather, tax returns, or any talent programme where people have to plead to be allowed to juggle flaming chainsaws o ...more
More about Hester Browne...
The Little Lady Agency (The Little Lady Agency, #1) The Little Lady Agency and the Prince (The Little Lady Agency, #3) Little Lady, Big Apple (The Little Lady Agency, #2) The Runaway Princess Swept off Her Feet

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