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Cassandra French's Finishing School For Boys    by Eric Garcia order for
Cassandra French's Finishing School For Boys
by Eric Garcia
Order:  USA  Can
Regan, 2005 (2004)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Sick of sappy chick lit? Then Eric Garcia has a darkly humorous alternative for you. Cassandra French is twenty-nine and sick of the dating scene. The men she meets are uncouth, immature, and vulgar. As legal counsel for business affairs at a major movie studio, she is paid a lot for minimal work, so that part of her life is just dandy. She also has a great best friend, Claire, with whom she shares all the heartaches and joys of life. Then there are the three men chained to cots in her basement, members of 'Cassandra French's Finishing School For Boys.'

Cassandra met all her 'boys' during horrible dating experiences. She decided that they needed re-training (all under strict lock and key) before they can re-enter the world and relate to women again. With classes on choosing clothing, dating, and behavior modification, Cassandra should have these boys shaped up in about a year. As she says to Claire, 'We change the boys we're with every day, little by little, whether we know it or not. So the Finishing School is just a quicker way of doing all that.'

Things are moving smoothly when Cassandra is introduced to her lifelong crush - movie star Jason Kelly. He quickly puts the moves on her, and she falls for him hook, line and sinker. But then she comes upon information to suggest he's using her to manipulate his movie contract, so ... into the Finishing School he goes! When Jason isn't quite as compliant as her other students, it's time for drastic measures. Can Cassandra cope with the consequences?

I found the novel laugh-out-loud hilarious. But I also believe that one must have a dark sense of humor to appreciate this satirical look at the dating scene - disturbing elements include the fact that Cassandra routinely drugs the boys with morphine to keep them compliant. The plot moves at a steady, quick pace, and Cassandra is a character the reader can't help but love. Her intentions are so pure, that for a while you can almost forget that these men have been kidnapped and held against their will. The inventive conclusion ties everything up cleanly.

Eric Garcia is known for his tongue-firmly-in-cheek humor (i.e. Matchstick Men, the Rex series) and does not disappoint with Cassandra French's Finishing School For Boys. Garcia's creativity shines and his originality provides the reader with an entertaining escape from reality.

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