The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman
Gripping. Shocking. Haunting. Suspenseful.
I read Joanna Goodman’s latest novel, The Home For Unwanted Girls, in August and absolutely adored it. When I was presented with the opportunity to go to a reading by Canadian author Joanna Goodman (tomorrow evening – can’t wait!!!), I decided to pick up her previous book to get in ‘full fan mode’.
This story follows Kersti Kuusk, a published Canadian author who spent her high school years on scholarship at the prestigious and wealthy Lycee Internationale school in Switzerland. Kersti’s last year of school at the Lycee ended with her best friend, Cressida, falling from a fourth-story balcony causing complete devastation among staff and students. Cressida’s fall is determined to be an accident and the investigation is quickly closed. Twenty years after leaving the Lycee, Kersti is invited back to be a guest speaker at the school’s 100th anniversary. Thoughts of returning to the school spark new cause for Kersti to reexamine exactly what happened to Cressida. Was it a suicide attempt? Was it an accident? Was she pushed? Kersti cannot let her mind rest until she finds some answers.
This novel turned out to be nothing like I expected. This story has so many layers, some of them delving into dark and disturbing territory. The intricate plot unfolds through two timelines, Kersti’s high school years at the Lycee and present day. I enjoyed the way the story evolved – each chapter added a new detail or twist, interweaving characters and providing hidden links from past to present.
There were a few aspects of the present day storyline that I thought were unnecessary. At times it felt as if there was a bit too much going on and less might have been more. However, everything came together seamlessly in the end, leaving me satisfied and looking forward to more from this author.
The Finishing School is a compelling, fast-paced story filled with suspense that explores friendship, love, desire, betrayal and dangerous secrets that had me flying through the pages. The story starts off simple and the suspense increased as I turned those pages. It takes a bit of an odd turn with one storyline that left me feeling a bit uneasy and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Talking it over with Lindsay we agreed it was odd however it certainly added some conversation to our discussion. It is interesting when an author can add something to the story that really gets you talking about it and Joanna Goodman does a great job here with that.
I loved the setting here with the Lycee Internationale Suisse finishing school and found it compelling as we get a look into the elite, and privilege and the length taken to keep that status untouched. The walls hold a decade mystery and the secrets, lies, and deceit are perfectly paced and revealed right up to that unexpected ending. The ending was darker than we expected and that left us with more to discuss.
Now even though I read this one with just Lindsay due to timing, it would make for a good group discussion. We highly recommend for group reads.
Have you read this one? Want to read this one? Drop us a comment! We would love to hear from you