What Rachel doesn't realise about her supposedly frugal-living, College professor boyfriend is that Nick is actually one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors, he grew up in the equivalent of a palace and his family at the top Singapore’s billionaire food chain. Rachel is suddenly flung into a world of private jets, rooms of couture, and sumptuous banquets, with an invite to the social event of the season, Nicholas’ best friend Colin’s wedding.
She also meets a host of characters, from business tycoons, to jet-setting housewives and catty ‘IT’ girls. And the scariest of the bunch? Nick’s formidable mother Eleanor, who will stop at nothing to eject Rachel from her beloved son’s life.
So what’s my verdict?
Full of backstabbing, gossip and unadulterated opulence that makes Blair Waldorf look like Mother Theresa, Crazy Rich Asians, is a unique glimpse into the world of Oriental excess rarely portrayed in literature.
Though the story primarily revolves around the poor, naive Rachel and her plight to fit into Nick’s ‘other life’ on the island, there are multiple story lines that only add on layers to the atmosphere of the novel. The most captivating side story is that of, Astrid, the ‘other-worldly’ looking IT girl and also Nick’s cousin, who’s seemingly cushy marriage starts to veer into troubled water. The juxtaposition of Astrid and Rachel’s stories provides the reader with an even greater glimpse into the life of the rich, with Astrid born into the world and Rachel struggling to get in, but both women are left vulnerable to the trappings of money and gossip. And of course there’s the ridiculousness of Nick’s mother Eleanor, who could be considered almost Miranda Priestly-esque in her scheming.
What makes Crazy Rich Asians stand out is the constant reminder of family tradition and the notion of old vs. new money, it’s Pride & Prejudice with a Singaporean spin. The cultural histories and social politics of all of the privileged families in the book are just as full of drama as the lives of their Western-world counterparts on the Upper East Side, the Royal Boroughs of Chelsea or the celebrity-ridden hills of Hollywood.
The novel is an overload of description for the senses and Kwan captures the sights and sounds of the upper echelons of high society in Singapore in great detail.
Beautiful, Dirty, Rich: Lady Gaga; Hot Mess: Cobra Starship; Rich: Yeah Yeah Yeahs; Royals: Lorde; B*tch: The Plasticines; It’s My Life: No Doubt; Glamourous: Fergie; Cha-Ching: Imagine Dragons; Rich Kid Bues: Lykki Li
For lovers of…Gossip Girl (both the novels and TV series), The Bling Ring and 90210
This post was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.
*Photo (c) Ria Cagampang