The summer months offered a few moments of indulgences. One in the form of reading! One of books I picked up before heading for a quick getaway was Kevin Kwan’s debut novel, CRAZY RICH ASIANS. As soon as that sparkly gold hardcover hit the shelves it quickly positioned itself onto the bestsellers list. But what is it about this book that caused all the buzz?
The story takes place in Singapore where a high society wedding serves as the central setting to several story lines that string along gossipy aunties, dragon mothers who strategically seek out “worthy” life companions for their socialite daughters determined to maintain status quo.
However, the main focus on this book is Rachel Chu – an understated American Born Chinese (ABC) from New York City. After agreeing to travel with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, back home for the summer, Rachel discovers that he leads a life that is very different than what she knew. Nicholas came from a well-pedigreed and highly respected family with fortunes so excessive that it’s beyond imagination.
Singapore reveals a stunning life of not just the rich…but the CRAZY RICH.
Rachel gets overwhelmed as she is unexpectedly pushed into this unknown world of his with every obstacle thrown at her.
When Nick’s mother discovers through the rumour mill that her son is bringing “a Rachel” home to Singapore for the wedding, she immediately goes into full investigation mode with the gossip elite. Through a series of broken telephone calls to friends, it was determined that Rachel Chu was the descendant of the wealthy TaiPei Plastics Company Chu’s. She eventually realizes that Rachel was not, in fact, THAT Rachel Chu and immediately pegs her as an imposter and starts plotting to ensure that her son is not destined to be with this gold-digger.
The story is full of satirical moments that delves lightly into the the complexities of the Chinese culture while delivering a gem of a book. I live vicariously through the CRAZY RICH ASIANS. I particularly loved the setting of the family estate placed in the the very crowded and central part of Singapore. It’s so well hidden that it’s off GPS radar . It is also the setting to Nick’s Grandmother’s party attended by diplomats, celebrities, and other wealthy friends and families to celebrate and witness the rare blossoms of the magical tan bua flowers. And who wouldn’t want to jet-set off to a surprise bachelorette party to a family owned tropical island complete with a shopping spree at boutique that carries the latest runway looks? Or attend a wedding that rumoured to have been worth $40 million?
I can relate to the customs and traditions of my culture for sure, but I can only imagine the excess of wealth in Asia. Kwan has mentioned in various interviews that the story is loosely based on his experiences as a child growing up in Singapore with a privileged upbringing so it’s fun to take a peek into this world.
CRAZY RICH ASIANS is pure cotton candy and great escape to fantasy island. Apparently the screen rights to the novel have already been sold. I can’t wait!
This was by far my favourite summer read. What was yours?
The novel is available in stores, online and pre-orders are available for Kobo and other eReaders.
Here’s Kevin Kwan…