Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys

Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys

4.1 6
by Eric Garcia
     
 

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Cassandra French is a twenty-nine-year-old business affairs lawyer for a movie studio in Los Angeles. She has a creepy, platitudinous mother who is under house arrest for telemarketing fraud; and two best friends: studio exec Claire, who's sleeping with her shrink, and Lexi, a blond man-magnet of a yoga instructor. Oh, and she also has three handsome young men

Overview

Cassandra French is a twenty-nine-year-old business affairs lawyer for a movie studio in Los Angeles. She has a creepy, platitudinous mother who is under house arrest for telemarketing fraud; and two best friends: studio exec Claire, who's sleeping with her shrink, and Lexi, a blond man-magnet of a yoga instructor. Oh, and she also has three handsome young men chained to cots in her basement. They're enrolled in Cassandra French's Finishing School For Boys.

Cassie has spent years in the dating hell that is Los Angeles, finding man after man who doesn't quite match up to her exacting standards. When Owen, a promising young man she meets at a baseball game, becomes a glassy eyed drunk by the seventh inning, she decides that all he needs is a little push in the right direction; after he passes out in her car, she brings him home, locks him up downstairs, and commences a year and a half of lessons on color coordination, behavior on dates, and ocassionally, sex. Owen proves an able student and is followed by two other likely candidates.

Things start to get a little complicated when Jason Kelly, Hollywood's biggest heartthrob, tries to seduce Cassie into fudging a contract issue on one of his movies. That's no way to treat a lady — and Cassie has just the cure.

With an endearingly amoral heroine, a pitch-perfect L.A. setting, and a cast of unforgettably warped characters, Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys is a shockingly funny, original, dead on satire of the dating scene.

Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
Despite her questionable tactics, Cassandra comes across as chipper and good-hearted, whether she's giving her "boys" mix-and-match fashion quizzes or showing them an edited version of "Pretty Woman." She has fixed that film so that Richard Gere's character becomes a caring and enlightened sort rather than a guy buying a Beverly Hills hooker at $3,000 a pop. And this is a book that's unspeakable fun whether it's read as satire, sadism or some loony hybrid of the two.
The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
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. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sick of all those losers you've been dating? Send them to Cassandra's: she'll have them shaped up in no time. Best known for his tongue-in-cheek "Rex" dinosaur p.i. mystery series, Garcia (Matchstick Men, 2002, etc.) shows himself an adroit student of the chick-lit genre-before giving it a serious goosing. Cassandra French is likable, all things told, even though at 29 she's a self-involved in-house lawyer for a big movie studio with a bevy of annoying ticks (such as assigning herself letter grades in all aspects of life). Still, she generally comes off as well meaning. It doesn't hurt that her two best friends, Claire and Lexi (the latter, like her dogs, is "beautiful, vicious, and easily distracted"), are even shallower, so Cassandra's general lack of interest in work or anything outside finding a man or dealing with her under-house-arrest mother, doesn't look so bad. Garcia pulls off a pretty amazing sleight-of-hand here: just when he has you settling into a vacuous, glittery, forgettable read, he drops the bomb. The finishing school of the title isn't a metaphor, and those "boys" in Cassandra's basement whom she's always running home from the office to feed aren't dogs. They're three men she's kidnapped and kept, chained and drugged, while she puts them through a months-long program of cultural, social, and sexual etiquette training. Even though they're cuffed and weak from all the morphine and low-protein foods, the guys-all buffoons who disappointed her in some fashion, including one who pulled a drunken grope during a blind date at a baseball game-appreciate what Cassandra's doing for them. This proves helpful when a fourth one (Brad Pitt-hot actor Jason Kelly) gets chloroformedand tossed into the population after seducing Cassandra for less-than-romantic reasons. Garcia knows the conventions so well that his satire slithers by almost unnoticed. Bridget Jones with a chainsaw: don't be surprised if this is one of the more popular beach-reads of the summer. Agent: Barbara J. Zitwer/Barbara J. Zitwer Agency

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060730314
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/01/2004
Pages:
298
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.01(d)

Read an Excerpt

Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys


By Garcia, Eric

ReganBooks

ISBN: 0060730315

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."

Continues...

Excerpted from Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys by Garcia, Eric Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

is the author of several novels, including Matchstick Men, which was made into a feature film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Nicolas Cage, and the Anonymous Rex series. A native of Miami, Florida, he now lives in Southern California with his wife, two daughters, and a dog.

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4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
cenarae More than 1 year ago
I don't normally read books like this, but i loved the title and thought i'd give it a chance. It was quite a good decision! I love Cassandra, a girl who is tired of boys not behaving and decides to open her version of a finishing school- in her basement. This is a quick read and i definitely recommend it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is by far my favorite book, I could read it again and again. Its funny, witty, and very unexpected. Just amazing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The premise of our heroine is unique, quirky and could just work for all of mankind. I laughed and wondered why no one had ever thought of this solution to men not being sensitive to women. You will enjoy this tale of what could be and the characters will make you glad you don't know any of them. A rare treat...a twist in the chicklit genre.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was hilarious, im in my early 20's and it is a nice change of pace to read something that will make you laugh out loud. It is a fun 'fluff' book ,great for a plane or a long drive
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story had some interesting aspects, but i had to force myself to turn the page. About three quarters through i had to force myself to finish.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Nearing thirty, Hollywood studio attorney Cassandra French constantly grades herself on six courses: Personality, Looks, Physical health, Mental health, Career, and Relationships. Her scores will vary in the first five courses depending on her situation, but she is a drop out when it comes to relationships as she has found men to be shallow and self indulged when they are sober; when males are drunk they become obnoxiously shallow and self indulged........................................ Tired of dating groping alcoholics, Cassandra has a good time attending a baseball game with Owen until the seventh inning stretch when beer consumption takes effect. Cassandra locks the drunken Owen in what she now calls her kennel. When he becomes an obedient canine, she brings him two companions, Alan and Daniel as students at her finishing school for changing slobbering male dogs into caring gentlemen. Movie star Jason Kelly takes Cassandra out, but she learns he is using her to sue her studio. Irate, Cassandra abducts him, but he is a moron unlike his three litter mates as he kills himself by electrocution......................... . Eric Garcia pays homage to the chick lit and hunk lit tales by skewing the sub-genre with this fabulous satire that stuns readers when they realize that this is not another sensitivity quest. Cassandra is amusing as she seems the prototype keeping up with the chick lit Jones until the audience realizes that her boys waiting for food in her basement kennel are not dogs, but human males. The support cast that include her ¿boys¿, her employer, and her two pals especially the yoga queen enable Cassandra to star as the queen of the ironically anti-chick lit romp.......................... Harriet Klausner