THE FINISHING TOUCHES

Hester Browne

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 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. Enter Betsy with a savvy business plan to replace dusty protocol with the essentials girls need today: cell phone etiquette,

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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 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. Enter Betsy with a savvy business plan to replace dusty protocol with the essentials girls need today: cell phone etiquette, eating sushi properly, handling credit cards, choosing the perfect little black dress, negotiating a pre-nup, and other lessons in independent living.

But returning to London also means crossing paths with her sexy girlhood crush . . . and stirring up the mystery of who her parents are and why they abandoned her. Will the puzzle pieces of her past fall into place while Betsy races to save the only home she’s ever known?

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  • Pocket Books
  • Paperback
  • April 2010
  • 432 Pages
  • 9781416540083

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$15.00

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About Hester Browne

Born in England, Hester Browne studied English at Trinity College, Cambridge. Hester Browne is the New York Times bestselling author of The Little Lady Agency, Little Lady, Big Apple, and The Little Lady Agency and the Prince. A devotee of Scottish reeling, vintage-clothes hunting, and cryptic crosswords, she lives in London and Herefordshire with her Basset hound Violet.

Praise

“Browne has a sure touch with plot and dialogue.”
Entertainment Weekly

“A charming and funny novel . . . moving, too, with some really poignant moments. I loved all the pieces of advice and scribbled some down!”—Sophie Kinsella, Time magazine

“Entertaining and highly enjoyable . . . will appeal to fans of Bridget Jones’s Diary.”—Library Journal

Discussion Questions

Betsy can be at once insecure and socially confident. How do these two aspects of her personality complement and contradict each other? Do you believe in the power of good manners to overcome awkward situations and painful emotions?

Discuss Betsy’s relationship with Lord Phillimore. There are a few very poignant moments between them, but there is also a sense of distance. How does her relationship with Lord Phillimore differ from her relationship with Franny? How does it change throughout the book?

Why do you think Betsy feels she has to lie about her real career? Do you think she would have been given the opportunity to transform the academy if everyone knew she worked in a shoe shop?

Although Betsy has a serious crush on Jamie, she is hesitant to jump at any opportunities that may make her fantasy of a relationship with him come true. Why does she hold herself back so many times?

Liv and Betsy are constantly teasing Jamie for his playboy reputation. Based on his interactions with Betsy throughout the book, how much of that reputation do you think is really deserved? How does that image play into Betsy’s feelings toward him?

Betsy wants to teach life skills that vary from serious undertakings such as getting a job and finding a home, to walking in heels and looking good in photographs. How important do you think the more frivolous-seeming skills really are? How does Betsy explain the need for them? Do you agree with her reasoning?

What makes Adele the perfect antagonist? Why is she so easy to hate? Do you think her character represents the image most people have of finishing school girls?

While Betsy swoons over Jamie, she also has a mild flirtation building with Mark. Who do you think is best for her? Do you agree with Liv’s insistence that Betsy give it a try with Jamie?

Do opposites really attract? Discuss the ways in which that idea fuels the relationships in this story.

Despite Hector’s bad reputation and irresponsible behavior, Betsy hopes beyond hope that he is her real father. Why is a blood relation to Franny and Lord Phillimore so important to her? How does she think it will make a difference in her life?

Part of Betsy’s curiosity about her birth mother stems from the feeling that she doesn’t really know who she is. Do you think finding her birth mother is the key to finding herself? What role, if any, does learning the truth about where she came from play in her self-understanding?