Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, Random House 2013
If you’re one of the many people who dote on books about the filthy rich, this one might feel like you’ve struck the jackpot. There’s Nick Young, living in America and a professor of history. Why Nick, heir apparent to one of the world’s great fortunes, would choose to toil in academia we never do find out, but he’s not one to flaunt his access to mountains of greenbacks. That means Rachel Chu, his girlfriend and professor of economics at the same university, has no idea what she’s getting into when the relationship gets serious enough for Nick to invite her home to meet his family.
Nick is best man in Singapore’s up-coming wedding of the century. Colin and Araminta’s nuptials will unite two of Asia’s biggest fortunes, the kind of event where everyone who’s anyone just has to be invited. The bride’s family is dropping forty million dollars on the shebang and Rachel, as Nick’s guest, is drawn into pre-wedding events as well as meeting Nick’s extensive family. Of course not all is smooth sailing for Nick and Rachel. Nick’s mother Eleanor has already decided Rachel is unsuitable and is hatching plots to drive the couple apart.
Rachel’s first indication of Nick’s financial status comes with a stay at Tyersall Park, the mansion Nick grew up in that’s owned by Nick’s grandmother Shang Su Yi, the patriarch who controls the family fortune. This is a place so exclusive that it’s blocked from showing up on Google map searches… very helpful if there’s ever a fire. Things come to a head when Eleanor’s private investigators uncover unsavory things about Rachel’s past – things even Rachel was never told by her mother. Shang Su Yi is appalled at the revelations and demands that Nick stop seeing Rachel if he wants to inherit the loot.
Can true love win out against all that money and family disapproval? Well, there are no great surprises in this love story. It’s light, fluffy, entertaining and reasonably unmemorable. Kwan takes delight in outlining the behaviors of people who have more money than brain cells and revels in descriptions of haut-couture, jewelry, food, private jets and all the other trappings of the crazy rich.
TL:DR – Kwan’s story is a super sweet bon-bon – one bite goes a long way.