Cover image for Cassandra French's finishing school for boys
Cassandra French's finishing school for boys
Garcia, Eric.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : ReganBooks, [2004]

Physical Description:
298 pages ; 24 cm
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What if women really could change men? Sex and the City meets Misery in this brilliantly twisted take on chick lit.

On the surface, Cassandra French is living the typical LA lifestyle. A lawyer at a film studio, she spends her days bored by the tedium of the Business Affairs department, and her evenings either dating a string of useless men or meeting up with her girlfriends to bemoan the uselessness of said men. But luckily none of this matters, because Cassandra French has a vocation. Cassandra is a woman on a mission. And her mission is to reform men. Because how is it that she's got such great girlfriends but never meets a man worthy of them? How is it that a man can have no conversation, no manners and no fashion sense...and yet he gets his pick of beautiful women? Something has to be done.

And so, in her basement, she's set up her own Finishing School for Boys. There, men learn to dress well, to date well, to compliment a woman, to make great dinner conversation, and to leave behind all the arrogance, brutishness and idiocy that society has bred into them. It's all going brilliantly--her students are happy, Cassandra's succeeding at something she believes in passionately--until she enrolls Jason Kelly, the studio's biggest star. And suddenly Cassie's in over her head...

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It had to happen sometime. Chick lit has gotten so popular that now men are writing it, and with somewhat predictable results. Cassandra French's story starts off in typical Bridget Jones fashion. She chronicles her bad dates, her overbearing mother, her boring but well-paid job, concerns about her weight, and her shopping sprees. Then the book gets a shot of testosterone. It turns out Cassandra hasn't been taking her bad dates lying down: she has been kidnapping the guys, locking them in her basement, and training them to be better dates. Her finishing school is going marvelously well until she starts to fall for both a famous actor and the brother of one of her captives. What starts out as a very entertaining read begins to drag toward the middle of the book but stays amusing throughout. A good choice for those getting a little tired of the genre but still wanting a light read. --Marta Segal Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

A Hollywood lawyer concocts a powerful new weapon in the war between the sexes in this spicy Tinseltown satire from Garcia (Matchstick Men, etc.). The fun begins when Cassandra French, a movie studio lawyer, anesthetizes three of her would-be paramours, then locks them up in her basement. There she conducts "finishing school" courses to transform them into perfect gentlemen. All goes swimmingly until French is asked out by beefcake movie star Jason Kelly, only to discover he was using her to set up a lawsuit against her studio. French gets revenge by abducting Kelly, but the plot twists come fast and furious after he accidentally electrocutes himself, leaving her to dispose of the body. At the cheeky climax, French's gorgeous, air-headed yoga instructor friend takes the finishing school concept in a startling new direction. French's penchant for great one-liners is matched by Garcia's imaginative plotting and his dead-on satire of life in L.A., Hollywood and the movie industry. The oddball conceit makes this novel an unlikely winner, but Garcia has crafted a quirky, pedal-to-the-metal satiric romp that remains fresh, likable and funny from start to finish. Agent, Barbara J. Zitwer. (June) Forecast: Garcia's Rex novels (most recently Hot and Sweaty Rex) are cult hits; his more straightforward Matchstick Men was made into the 2003 movie starring Nicolas Cage. This chick-lit-goes-gonzo follow-up could be his breakout book. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Men behaving badly need to steer clear of Cassandra French, in-house counsel for a large L.A. movie studio. Fed up with unwanted passes, excessive alcohol consumption, and just all-around shoddy manners, French sets up a "finishing school" in her basement, where she chains eligible bad boys to cots and trains them with a mixture of carefully edited movies, lectures about manners and fashion, chocolate, and generous doses of morphine. Bridget Jones's Diary meets a kinder, gentler version of Stephen King's Misery (Cassandra does, after all, use padded handcuffs) in Garcia's (Matchstick Men)hilarious modern-day cautionary tale. Quirky secondary characters round out the cast: Cassandra's mother, under house arrest and forever finding ways to get around the order forbidding her to use a phone, and the "wuzzles," sweet-looking dogs whose favorite dish is human flesh. This is wickedly witty chick lit sure to entertain and suitable for fiction collections of all sizes.--Shelley Mosley, Glendale Community Coll. Lib., AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.



Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys A Novel Lesson no. 1 Stark and Unrelenting Candor There was a woman on television the other day who insisted that the best way for us, as humans, to achieve our goals is to grade ourselves, in every aspect of our lives, with stark and unrelenting candor. It's not good enough simply to think about these grades, or to tell them to a friend; according to this woman, who may or may not have been an actual doctor, you've got to write them down at least once a day if you want to make a difference in your life. There's no need, she said, to make any specific proactive plans for these changes to occur. The sheer act of writing them down is, eventually, enough to do the trick. Though I have a strong feeling the woman was a shill for the Bic pen corporation, it's difficult for me to resist what seems like a ridiculously easy method to turn my life toward the better. If all it takes to achieve happiness is a belly flop into the culture of constant self-evaluation, I'm ready to pull on a bikini and call myself a swimmer. To start, I'll give myself a C in metaphor. GRADES FOR CASSANDRA FRENCH, AGE LATE TWENTIES (the very latest of the twenties, technically): Personality: A+, cheery and bright (on a good day); B, moody and pensive (on a low-blood-sugar day); C, morose and sullen (those days when I can't be bothered to strike up the grimace that would net me a B). Looks: B+, though I hear big hair is coming back into vogue, and I was damned cute in the late eighties, so it may be upgraded to an A- in a short while. Physical health: A when my mother asks me, B when my friends ask me, C when I'm alone at home, excusing myself from the gym, picking out caramel See's candies to accompany me on lonely video-rental evenings. I guess that's closer to a C-, if we're going for that stark candor stuff. Mental health: A when my mother asks me, B when my friends ask me, C when I'm alone at home, bloated on aforementioned See's candies and crying from the manipulative movie I rented that's set me back three years in therapy. Career: This needs to be separated into two sections. Compensation is excellent, A+ all around. I make way more money than should be allowed by law. But in terms of job satisfaction, I'm hovering down near the remedial kids. It might be different if I even had work with which to be unsatisfied. Today, unfortunately, is a day like any other. Today, I have no work to do. Grade: D- with a see me after class . Relationships: Incomplete. Course repeatedly dropped. There. I feel better already. In the dark ages before I discovered the joys of working for business affairs here at the studio (said joys: home before six P.M. , great clam chowder at the commissary, free admission for myself and six friends to the studio-owned theme park), I put in my time at one of the big Century City law firms catering to the wealthy creative types in town who make and break films and television shows based on their horoscope and mood du jour. The firm had twelve partners, sixteen overzealous associates, and yours truly. That's twenty-eight attorneys eager to litigate tooth and nail over percentages of percentages of profits that would never materialize, and one Cassandra French, who found herself yawning through every deposition. Like an atheist who'd accidentally wandered into a southern Baptist holy-roller convention, I clapped along to the beat but just couldn't see what all the fuss was about. As in most law firms across America, the partners at Kornfeld, Jannollari, and Winston expected me to account for my time in billable hours, a term derived from the German word billinbehoren , meaning roughly "slow death under fluorescent lights." Every billable hour can, in turn, be broken down into ten separate parts (a tenth of an hour, five-tenths of an hour, and so on) which means that my days stuttered by in very small chunks. In the legal world, nothing lasts shorter than six minutes. It's like an electron, unbreakable and unmutable. If you sneeze, that sneeze, technically, takes six minutes to complete itself. On the up side, it makes for fabulous orgasms. A typical day at Kornfeld would find me running after three cases at once, trying to complete my tasks while still accounting for every minuscule bit of my day. Let's say, for example, that I'd been assigned the task to run down case law involving practical residuals for a U.S. syndicated television show sold to Croatian markets (yes, this is the kind of thing I did for a living; feel free to point and laugh at will). This necessitated a staggering amount of legwork, only a fraction of which could be legitimately accounted for. To wit: Everything in boldface below was considered billable by the firm; that is, they could turn around and charge this time to the client. Everything not in boldface was officially considered a "personal matter." Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys A Novel . Copyright © by Eric Garcia. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys: A Novel by Eric Garcia All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. 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