This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
REVIEWED BY LAURA STANNING
If you’ve read some of my other reviews, you’ll know that I’ve read Hester’s previous books and thoroughly enjoyed them. So I was slightly nervous when The Finishing Touches arrived on my doorstep. Reading the back of the book I was definitely optimistic – it sounded delicious. “Every girl should know what the finishing touches are. That dash of gloss on the cheekbones to lift your complexion. High heels for poise, and a luscious lipstick for the perfect pout. It's the spritz of perfume on the pulse points and the…ability to stand on your own two feet?” What kind of girl doesn’t want to know about things like that? But Hester’s three books to date have all been about the same character, the adorable and naïve Melissa, and I was a bit apprehensive as to whether she could create another great heroine, or whether one of my favourite new authors was about to turn out to be a one-character wonder.
And as it turns out, I needn’t have worried. Betsy Tallimore, heroine of The Finishing Touches, does have similarities with Melissa (and actually, I suspect, with Hester herself) – they’re both sweet, capable, and impeccably well-mannered. But where Melissa’s naïveté occasionally seems little contrived, Betsy is a natural; a bright, modern girl who knows how to walk in high heels but gets endearingly tongue-tied when her best friend’s gorgeous brother talks to her.
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Adopted at birth by the aristocratic Tallimores, who run the exclusive Tallimore Academy finishing school, she’s not really sure who she is or where she belongs. But when her beloved foster-mother dies and her foster-father begs her to help rescue the school from bankruptcy she knows that, whatever difficult memories it holds, she has to help turn The Tallimore Academy around. But with the school’s more traditional lessons becoming less and less relevant to modern life, terrifying pupils and a downright obstructive headmistress, Betsy knows she’s got a fight on her hands if she’s going to throw out meringue-swan making, bring in What To Wear On A First Date (and other essential tips for the modern lady) and just maybe find out who her real parents are along the way.
This book is a complete treat. It’s light, fun, instantly involving and, I suspect, will cause every girl who reads it to wish secretly that she could have gone to finishing school herself. It also boasts two gorgeous potential heroes and it’s packed full of surprisingly useful tips on how to survive the modern world with elegance.
But a good story needs good characters to support it, and this is something Hester excels at. Betsy is a wonderful mix of independence, uncertainty and very human worries: there’s something in her that I think most people can relate to, be it teenage spats with your parents or your career not being quite as glittering as you make it sound to your friends. The main supporting characters, particularly Betsy’s beautiful and chaotic best friend Liz and her equally divine brother, are well thought-out and strong personalities in their own right and, like Betsy, they develop in a very natural way throughout the book.
I’d recommend this wholeheartedly to anyone who loves their chick-lit. Right from the start it draws you into an elegant and glamourous world so kick your shoes off, tuck your feet up on the sofa and get stuck in. Except that I have a feeling that feet on the sofa might be Not Ladylike and, having read this, I’m definitely determined to be as elegant as any graduate of The Tallimore Academy.
THIS BOOK IS RELEASED 13TH MAY 2010