Thursday, August 20, 2009

Landing in the Middle of August with a Dud--Hester Browne's "The Finishing Touches"

So after starting August with a bang, I slowed down a bit because I had a bit of a dud. No need to go into how it was a dud here--I'll let the review speak for itself.

Hester Brown's "The Finishing Touches" is set at an English finishing school in London that has seen better days. The school's spiritual leader Franny has just died, and the school's old fashioned ways has left it with just four hopeless and spoiled students. When the owner of the school asks his adopted daughter, Betsy, to try to figure out how to bring back the school's old glory, she decides a rapid modernization campaign is necessary to bring the school back to life. But will Betsy save the school before it's too late?

"The Finishing Touches" was a cute concept, but I feel like it needed more substance. The main characters--Betsy, her friend Liv, and the girls at the school--all seemed interesting enough, but I kept wishing that they would actually DO something. The novel felt like exposition, exposition, and more exposition, with very little action until the very end. When the action started it was very good and I enjoyed reading it, I just wish it had started on page 50, instead of on page 350. Ms. Brown is obviously a talented writer, and she did a great job developing the relationship between Betsy and Liv and Betsy and her adopted mother Franny. I just wish she had put some of that talent into developing an interesting and cohesive narrative throughout this novel.

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