Cassandra French’s Finishing School for Boys

Our Rating

Author: Eric Garcia

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Year: 2005

MPAA Rating: G

Well kids, you heard it here first: Cassandra French’s Finishing School for Boys is going to be the next big thing. If you read it now, you will have the pleasure of sitting in the multiplex one day when a trailer with a familiar plot comes blaring across the screen. You will smile knowingly, and when your friends whisper that you all have to go see it, you can look at them with satisfaction and say, “Ah, yes. I knew Cassandra French way back when she was just a book.”

At the moment, there is no word of a movie version of Cassandra French’s Finishing School for Boys, but I feel confident that there will be. It was written by none other than Eric Garcia, the brilliant author of Matchstick Men and Anonymous Rex, both of which were adapted for the screen. Plus, it’s dark, witty, and full of unexpected twists. It is chick lit at its best – funny and compulsively readable, but also very, very smart. It seems like something Danny DeVito would want to produce and all the young A-listers would want to star in. In short, it’s fabulous.

Cassandra French is a 29 year old entertainment lawyer who works for a Hollywood studio. Yep, you heard right – she’s a lawyer. Not an editor or a writer for a magazine, and no, she does not live in London or New York. She doesn’t blunder her way through one shopping trip after another while mooning over boys – her ditzy acquaintance does that, and Cassandra can barely stand her. How nice to have the interesting one for our heroine! Sure Cassandra’s got great fashion sense, and of course she’d like to settle down with the perfect boy, but there are more pressing issues at hand…like the three boys she’s holding prisoner in her basement.

Cassandra has an eye for boys with undeveloped potential, and she feels that after a few months in her finishing school they will emerge as decent and datable men. So what if enrollment is not exactly voluntary – a little chloroform never hurt anyone. As you would expect, the plot that unfolds is full of twists and turns, and makes for a very satisfying read. So often these books drift into mundane territory, never delivering more than a few snappy one liners, but Eric Garcia digs deeper.

If you’ve ever read a book that resonates so soundly that it feels like the author must have spent some time in your head, or at least reading your email, then you’ll know how I felt as I read Cassandra French’s Finishing School for Boys. How does Eric Garcia know that my friends and I call each other “Lady”? How does he know that we would be entirely likely to call a touchy-feely date “Gropey McGroperson”? Well, I did a little research, and it’s not because Eric hacked into my email account – it’s because he’s actually from my generation.

Growing up, you get used to all of the successful people being older than you, so it’s exciting to see that people my age are starting to break out and find their voices. It’s even more exciting to see someone do it so well. Garcia writes so convincingly in the voice of Cassandra, that you don’t give a moment’s thought to gender. He backs up Nick Hornby’s theory that fundamentally men and women aren’t that different, and I think it’s great. I’m proud of them both for fearlessly writing great female characters and breaking those gender barriers down.

I can’t wait to see what Eric Garcia will write next, but in the meantime, I’ll be waiting with bated breath for Cassandra French to make her big screen debut. Maybe I’ll see you in line on opening night!



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