Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

The Finishing School (Joanna Goodman)

on July 28, 2019

I’ve never done this before, but I feel compelled to include a TRIGGER WARNING for readers due to the presence of childhood sexual abuse and teen suicide found in The Finishing School. Both issues are prevalent themes of the novel.

Having said that, The Finishing School was an outstanding read! The novel’s setting is split between Lausanne and Toronto. Kersti is an Estonian-Canadian whose family owns a small travel agency in Toronto. Rather than educating her in Toronto, her family sends her to the same all-girls boarding school in Lausanne that her mother attended. It is at the Lycee that Kersti becomes friends with her roommate, Cressida.

Cressida is a wild-child, experimenting with drug use and exploring her sexuality. Cressida soon confides in her roommate that she is having an affair with an older man; Kersti later discovers that the man is the girls’ married history teacher. After an upsetting night during the girls’ senior year including lots of tears and alcohol, Cressida falls from her third floor balcony, leaving her paralyzed and spending the rest of her life in a vegetative state. The school determines the event was an unfortunate accident caused by Cressida’s alcoholism and the investigation is closed.

While working on her third novel, Kersti receives a disturbing letter written by one of her Lycee friends just before her death that suggests that something sinister was actually occurring behind the secluded doors of the exclusive boarding school. Is it possible that Cressida was pushed from the balcony because she knew too much? Were other girls suffering in silence? This letter begins Kersti’s search for the truth in order to gain justice for her friend and to bring closure to her own experiences at The Finishing School.

Goodman’s novel certainly qualifies as a page-turner and quickly engages the reader. The writing style is fluid and allows the audience to seamlessly move between the recounting of events at the school in the 1990s and the present day search for truth. The inclusion of Kersti’s personal struggles with fertility and the impact it has on her marriage can sometimes become distracting from the overall storyline, but I still find The Finishing School to be a worthy read for any book club or a reader needing a fun thriller to add to their shelf.

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