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The Finishing Touches

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  4,524 Ratings  ·  344 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
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 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it
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
Jun 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Jenn Estepp
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit
3.5 stars -- light and fun, but not one that will stick with me
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(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
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, it was light and fun but still gave the characters room to grow. I liked the premise of a finishing school for young ladies in the modern age (well almost the modern age, which is why Betsy needed to get involved) and it highlighted some of the knowledge gaps that people today may not even realize they have until the situation arises. The secondary characters are fun and are fill out the story nicely. I fully recommend this as a humorous romance to read on the weekend or to ...more
Annabelle Solt
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Betsy is left on the doorstep of an English finishing school as a newborn. She is adopted by the owners. She returns for the memorial of Franny, who she considers her mother. The school is hopelessly out of touch with modern life and Betsy is trying to bring it up to date and save it. Funny and romantic story.
Georgia Gomez
Slow but entertaining

I love this authors other books so I was excited to come across this book. However it wasn't as funny or engaging as the little lady series. Took me a couple days of forced reading to get into the story but it actually turned out to be enjoyable. Wish I hadn't paid for it but oh well.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
A couple days ago I was recommending Hester Browne books to a friend, and I read this post I had written about The Finishing Touches: https://sarahsbookjournal.wordpress.c...
It made me want to reread it and I promptly picked it up at the library. I didn't intend to spend all day reading, but somehow I did. It was every bit as satisfying as my 8-years-ago-self said it would be.
I can only aspire to have all the grace and knowledge that Lady Frances passed on to Betsy.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Cute. Great characters. Fun plot. Her books are always enjoyable.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good beach read, but I thought it was unevenly paced. Took too long to get to the "good parts".
I found this to be delightful, but I'm a sucker for books set in London among the blue bloods.
J'Nell Ciesielski
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Charming, witty, funny, and sweet in classic Hester Browne style. Oh did I mention stylish?
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 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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Can NOT WAIT!!!!! 1 27 Mar 21, 2009 06:50AM  
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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
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