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Lifestyle of the rich and famous.
Kevin Kwan takes you on a crazy journey in his debut novel about three affluential families in Singapore, who live such a lifestyle you and I would think is make-believe.
Meet Rachel Chu, an American-born Chinese woman who lives with boyfriend Nicholas Young. As Nicholas invites her to come home to Singapore with him for his best friend’s wedding, Rachel learns something about the love of her life she never could imagined: his family is filthy rich.
The second they land in Singapore, Rachel has a target on her back. Nicholas’ family doesn’t trust her familial lineage, especially since she’s an ABC, and makes her life a living hell, accusing her of being a gold-digger.
Rachel is anything but. By our standards, you would think she’s doing quite well for herself: She’s an economic professor, which is where she met Nicholas. She has worked for all that has been given to her in life and as the lead character, you feel a sense of pride for her.
It’s not like the families just don’t like Rachel because she’s well-off on her own. They literally make the trip that was meant to solidify her’s and Nicholas’ relationship, one of the worst experiences of her life. Eleanor, Nicholas’ mother, goes lengths to unearth things about Rachel that she wasn’t even aware of, questioning everything she grew up knowing and believing.
As I read this story, I truly felt awful for Rachel. I couldn’t imagine being thrown into this lap of luxury like she was. You’d think that being chartered on private jets and soaking up sun on uncharted islands with specialty cocktails would be ultimate lifestyle goals, but Rachel can’t help but feel her trust in Nicholas falter after being thrown into the lion’s den.
Imagine how she’s feeling: the man she fell in love with, the humble man who works his tail off as a professor, is actually Asia’s most eligible bachelor and comes from a family that’s network is worth quadruple (and then some) what she could ever imagine bringing home. It would shake anyone’s faith in another person, but now add the factor that his own mother and grandmother forbid the potential marriage between them, strictly based on her family. Everything she worked for in life, simply isn’t good enough.
I’ve always known the Asian culture to be very strict and polar compared to ours. This story gives us a real glimpse inside, even if it is peppered with ludicrous tidbits of wealth. I can’t help but feel some empathy for characters like Astrid, who discovers her husband is in an “affair”; Collin, who wants to marry Araminta, but doesn’t want the hype and madness with one of the most elaborate weddings in the history of the world; and Nicholas, who has been led his entire life to not talk about his wealth and doesn’t understand the magnitude of his wealth.
There’s definitely some bits of humor, it’s a relatively easy read and I liked Kwan’s style of writing. This is one of three series by Kwan, which are next on my to-read list. I think I especially enjoyed this style of writing because it essentially an adult-version of Gossip Girl, which was one of my favorites as a teenager.
Rating: 3 out of 5