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The Finishing Touches

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  4,365 Ratings  ·  335 Reviews
A fading English finishing school gets a twenty-first-century makeover in this "modern-day fairy tale" (Romantic Times) from New York Times bestselling author Hester Browne, whose sparkling novels are "charming and feel-good" (Cosmopolitan).Twenty-seven years ago, an infant turned up on the doorstep of London’s esteemed Phillimore Academy for Young Ladies. Now, Betsy Phi ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published March 23rd 2010 by Gallery Books (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
The Finishing Touches is simply fun to read. Hester Browne used her typical creativity to produce a delightful chick lit genre novel which is light, entertaining and smartly paced. No thinking required- just kick back and relax.
May 25, 2011 Saba rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 20, 2010 Ann rated it really liked it
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
Apr 29, 2010 Ana rated it really liked it
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 31, 2011 kari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 09, 2009 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Love Fool
Feb 26, 2014 Love Fool rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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's esteemed Phillimore Academy for Young Ladies....

I love different stories for chick-lit books and I thought this was very un
SOS Aloha
Aug 20, 2015 SOS Aloha rated it really liked it
Finishing a good book is like leaving a good friend. - William Feather

Published in 2010 by Gallery Books, I found this 432 page trade size paperback at my library's swap shelf. I had not read Hester Browne before but have enjoyed other "chick lit" books from British authors, including Sophia Kinsella. In fact, Sophia offers a cover quote, "A delicious, entertaining book." As soon I finished the last page, I realized Sophia was right - it was tasty treat!

THE FINISHING TOUCHES unfolds from Betsy'
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
Oct 11, 2009 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost gave this 5 stars; I would give this 4.5 if Goodreads had half stars.

I thought this book was utterly delightful! I've always thought there is so much about the Real World that one has to learn through mistakes, so a finishing school like the one Betsy develops sounds quite appealing!

I thought the teens who attended were great, especially Divinity and Anatasia. The other two, Clemmy and Venetia, didn't come as alive to me. I think I also liked how earnest Divinity tried to be.

(view spoil
May 04, 2013 Sx rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
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
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
Mar 02, 2012 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit, 2012
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jenn Estepp
Nov 22, 2014 Jenn Estepp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 02, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 18, 2013 Shannon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
3.5 stars -- light and fun, but not one that will stick with me
Feb 09, 2017 Michelle rated it really liked it
(3.5 stars) Betsy was left as a baby on the doorstep of the Phillimore Academy, a finishing school for young ladies in London. Betsy was adopted by Lord and Lady Phillimore and grew up around the school. While she always thought that she would attend, she was hurt when Lord Phillimore insisted that she go elsewhere for school. She ended up with a college degree, but struggled to find a position, and ended up working as a manager for a shoe store in Scotland. On Lady Phillimore’s death, she retur ...more
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
Oct 25, 2011 Lissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fresh-fiction
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
I've read each of Hester Browne's three other previous novels and have enjoyed all of them. The books that she had written were part of series (The Little Lady Agency) and I was excited to see that she would be venturing out on a new story with all new characters. The book begins with Frances Phillimore, the woman who runs a finishing school in London, getting a surprise addition to her morning deliveries. It's a baby in a crate. Frances and her husband, Lord Phillimore, adopt the child and name ...more
Becky Brum
Very enjoyable! Light but interesting.
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
Sep 11, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit, reviewed
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
Feb 16, 2017 Johanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was utterly delightful! I've always thought there is so much about the Real World that one has to learn through mistakes, so a finishing school like the one Betsy develops sounds quite appealing!
Jan 19, 2012 Adrienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Elizabeth Ray
Mar 05, 2013 Elizabeth Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really sweet book. Main character, Betsey, was found on the front porch of a lady's finishing school as a baby. The owners of the finishing school, Lord and Lady Philmore, took her in and raised her as their own. Now, Lady Philmore has passed away and her husband has asked Betsey to bring in her "marketing" knowledge and help the failing academy to stay afloat. Although Betsey only works at a shoe store and has overstated her experience, she realizes this could be a chance to poke aro ...more
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
Jul 10, 2014 Heila rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s
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
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Can NOT WAIT!!!!! 1 27 Mar 20, 2009 10:50PM  
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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
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