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The Finishing School

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  4,175 ratings  ·  474 reviews
In this suspenseful, provocative novel of friendship, secrets, and deceit, a successful writer returns to her elite Swiss boarding school to get to the bottom of a tragic accident that took place while she was a student twenty years earlier.

How far would you go to uncover the truth?

One spring night in 1998 the beautiful Cressida Strauss plunges from a fourth-floor balcony
Paperback, 330 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Harper Paperbacks
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Popular Answered Questions
Sid No. To be considered one, it would need an entirely different pace.
Nicole That's where Kersti's parents emigrated from. I don't know if the author has any ties to Estonia, though.…moreThat's where Kersti's parents emigrated from. I don't know if the author has any ties to Estonia, though.(less)

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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,175 ratings  ·  474 reviews

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Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
4 stars!

Gripping. Shocking. Haunting. Suspenseful.

I read Joanna Goodman’s latest novel, The Home For Unwanted Girls, in August and absolutely adored it. When I was presented with the opportunity to go to a reading by Joanna Goodman (tonight – can’t wait!!!), I decided to pick up her previous book to get in ‘full fan mode’.

This story follows Kersti Kuusk, a published Canadian author who spent her high school years on scholarship at the prestigious and wealthy Lycee Internationale school in Swi
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
The Finishing School is a compelling, fast-paced story filled with suspense that explores friendship, love, desire, betrayal and dangerous secrets that had me flying through the pages. The story starts off simple and the suspense increased as I turned those pages. It takes a bit of an odd turn with one storyline that left me feeling a bit uneasy and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Talking it over with Lindsay we agreed it was odd however it certainly added some conversation to our discussio ...more
Unexpectedly satisfying "woman's fiction", with a complex plot and well developed characters. Light reading, yes, but very well done. ...more
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
It has been 20 years since Kersti Kuusk set foot on the grounds of the Lycée, the prestigious boarding school she attended as a teen. Kersti was a scholarship student from Canada at the elite school, and she left abruptly in her senior year, after her best friend, Cressida, fell from her balcony one evening. The school declared the event an accident, but now, Kersti finds herself unconvinced. A timely letter from another of her school friends brings up more questions: was Cressida pushed, or did ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Character Study with Heart.

Riveting and Intense.

More to come..
Oct 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
In summing up this book, I’d first be inclined to define it by a lack of self-awareness. My initial suspicion, the first hint of Something Deeply Wrong, was the selfishness of the characters, how they’d talk at but not to one another. I’d hoped that would be resolved; and it was. Would that that had been my only issue, and would that I could still believe that some truly problematic elements were the fault of Ms. Goodman’s lack of self-awareness rather than something much worse.

The sirens grew l
lucky little cat
Nov 04, 2018 marked it as that-s-enough
Recommends it for: people with <b>lots</b> of patience
Abandoned at 21.5% because I'm at 21.5% and nothing has happened yet.

The offending bit of dialogue that tipped me over the edge:

She can hear Magnus snickering.
“Je riais, tu riais—”
“That’s the imperfect,” M. Feiully says, annoyed. “Perhaps less actual laughing, Mademoiselle Kuusk, and more practicing your verb conjugations. It’s: J’avais ri, tu avais ri, elle avait ri . . .”

Yeah, I know French verb tenses too. Get on with the story, already.
May 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a quick read with a few twists and turns.
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow. I don't know what to say about this book. I won it through a Goodreads giveaway and I am so glad that I did! This is one of those books that kept me thinking about it even while I wasn't reading it. This book has everything: Suspense, mystery, girls boarding school, and a shocking ending! I am so sad that it's over... an epilogue would've been nice, now I can't get it out of my head... Highly recommend! ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
I knew who the bad guy was by page 30, but read to the end hoping for some meat to discuss when I booktalk it...nope. Dry writing, dull characters, predictable plot, obvious twists. Ugh. I never learn.
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Finishing School is mysterious, dramatic, timely, and emotive. It’s a solid read that alternates between the past and present unravelling a sinister story of control, power, abuse, and violence.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
The finishing school ⭐️
Lillie is dead. But she has some unfinished business.

I loved the little twists and turns leading the story and guiding Kersti and Cressida it drew me in more. Needed to know what happened, what really happened.

Star reasoning
⭐️connected with the characters.
⭐️interesting story
⭐️love the writing style

-2 slow going. I wasnt really invested in the story.

Maybe its because I LOVED the home for unwanted girls so i wanted to love this just as much so i was let down. I built up
Wow. This book was not what I expected. And by the ending, it still struck me as strange... and disturbing.

The novel was all over the place. Dual timelines were not enough, no ... the story jumped from June 1998 to June 2016 to July 2001. I grew confused!

Kersti annoyed me. The "I want my own baby, my and my husband's own DNA" mindset really gets under my skin. Her poor, poor husband! The plot of Kersti carrying babies born of her friend's eggs and Kersti's husband's sperm just seemed really sc
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the descriptions of Switzerland and the 90's nostalgia. The ending was mostly a surprise. There were enough hints that the reader could figure out who's guilty, but not until the end. Its a little more original than your usual whodunit. There were a few plot holes, but the story kept me reading until the end. ...more
So obviously this isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s entertaining and a little trashy and easy to finish in a couple of hours. I picked it up simply because it said boarding school, and I didn’t actually expect all that much, so I was mostly positively surprised because it was more mystery than teenage drama/soap opera.

Writing ★★★☆☆
Characters ★★☆☆☆
Plot ★★★★☆

The story goes back and forth between Kersti’s 4 years at boarding school in Switzerland, where her best friend Cressida fell from (or jumped? or
Rainey Williams
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm going to pull from reader Jenna Swayzie's review down below, because it pretty much sums up how I felt about the book too. "I expected a lot more secret society mystery and a lot less infertility drama, but the way the murder mystery part of the plot turned out was actually a lot more realistic and memorable. I think if a good chunk of the present day plot line had been taken out and replaced with more time spent during Cressida and Kersti's years at school, fleshing out their friends and fr ...more
Yvonne O'connor
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I immediately got myself in queue at the library after reading Joanna Goodman's book The Home For Unwanted Girls - which was phenomenal! And I have to say, I loved The Finishing School too. Another 5 star read!! I need more ... stat!

Extremely gripping storyline that had me hooked immediately. It's dark, twisty and shocking!
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was a nice easy summer read that started off strong, but then devolved into a mix of generic and totally batshit nuts (but not in a kooky way - in a "Are you seriously trying to sell me on this?" way). ...more
”Fear. That was my problem. I’ve always felt like a child cowering in a corner. Oddly enough, the only thing I did not fear was death. I feared not being liked; not being good enough; not being worthy; not being respected; not being beautiful; not being happy or useful or productive; I feared being abandoned, being exposed, being seen, being judged, being rejected.

But I never feared death."

Synopsis: Thinking of sending your little princess off to boarding school? This book will change yo
Bethany Clark
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow!  What a great read!  Goodman leads you through the crazy, twisted, sexy, turbulent mindset of those individuals that attended that elite boarding school - from students to teachers to administrators.  A tragic event - Cressida's plunge from a fourth floor balcony - takes place and it shapes the lives of all involved or thought to be involved.  Kersti has let the events of that night be pushed to the back of her mind for many years, but now she has been asked to come back as a speaker at the ...more
Kate Welsh
The story had interesting elements - and I kept reading to find out what was going on - but the writing never grabbed me.
Maggie Carr
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
What I thought I was going to read when I picked up this book and what it actually was couldn't be more different. At points I was speechless, turned angry, rationalized it and kept reading. I don't think I have ever experienced such varied emotions while reading fiction. This one will be on my year end recommendations, because rarely do book plots leave me seriously unsure where they will lead. ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This got better. I do find it starts slow. I didn't love it. It feels like every trope associated with a boarding school, coupled with a dark twist. Also, there's not enough development of the friendship between the narrator, Kirsti, and her 'best friend' Cressida. Part of it is because Cressida is fairly selfish (for potentially good reasons in some cases, but still). I don't know, I felt like I didn't really have a great sense of their friendship, partly because Kirsti's basically a walking in ...more
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Twenty years ago, Kersti attended a boarding school in Switzerland. Her best friend and roommate for the four years was Cressida, who jumped from a 4th floor balcony near the end of their last school year. Kersti receives a letter from a classmate, Lille, who recently died from breast cancer. Lille was convinced that Cressida did not jump. Kersti, a published writer, decides she should have asked more questions right after the tragedy so she journeys back to the school for its 100th a ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
It started off very well. I liked the main character, the mystery was engaging, and rich girls in boarding schools is very much up my fictional alley. But then towards the end it became kind of lurid and darker than I was prepared for. The stakes got surprisingly high all of a sudden and then just sort of went away. It really didn't feel like a satisfying ending for me. ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it
2.75 stars. I won this from a Goodreads giveaway. I thought it was somewhat of a soap opera sort of story. There was not a lot of character development nor did the friendships ring true. A decent but light read.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
A good read with an unexpected ending.
Aug 31, 2019 rated it liked it
(3.5 stars) I picked up The Finishing School because I was looking for a salacious boarding school drama with a big mystery to solve. That’s pretty much what I ended up getting. This book is set in alternating chapters of the 1990s and present day. In the 90s, Kersti attends a Swiss boarding school on scholarship and makes memories that will last a lifetime. However, all the normal boarding school drama and excitement gives way to tragedy when her best friend Cressida falls from her balcony. In ...more
I’ve had fairly good luck with first person narrators recently: Dear Thief, Find Me, Like One of the Family, Tana French’s whole oeuvre (duh). But, for most of my life I’ve hated first person narration, for reasons I can’t quite explain. Maybe it’s because there’s a sort of stock First Person Voice that pops up all the time, maybe because it often still feels too distant. (Maybe neither.) So when I say I keep remembering The Finishing School as being in first person despite it being in third, it ...more
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Joanna Goodman’s #1 Bestselling Historical Fiction novel, The Home for Unwanted Girls was released April 17, 2018 to wide critical acclaim.

Joanna is the author of four previous novels, including The Finishing School, You Made Me Love You and Harmony. Her stories have appeared in The Fiddlehead, The Ottawa Citizen, B & A Fiction, Event, The New Quarterly, and White Wall Review.

Originally from Mont

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