Saturday, July 11, 2015

Review: China Rich Girlfriend: A Novel by Kevin Kwan


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Kevin Kwan, bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians, is back with a wickedly funny new novel of social climbing, secret e-mails, art-world scandal, lovesick billionaires, and the outrageous story of what happens when Rachel Chu, engaged to marry Asia's most eligible bachelor, discovers her birthfather.
 
     On the eve of her wedding to Nicholas Young, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Asia, Rachel should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond from JAR, a wedding dress she loves more than anything found in the salons of Paris, and a fiancĂ© willing to sacrifice his entire inheritance in order to marry her. But Rachel still mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won't be able to walk her down the aisle. Until: a shocking revelation draws Rachel into a world of Shanghai splendor beyond anything she has ever imagined. Here we meet Carlton, a Ferrari-crashing bad boy known for Prince Harry-like antics; Colette, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father. Meanwhile, Singapore's It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband. A romp through Asia's most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriend brings us into the elite circles of Mainland China, introducing a captivating cast of characters, and offering an inside glimpse at what it's like to be gloriously, crazily, China-rich.

MY TAKE:
The summary for this book piqued my curiosity greatly.

In China Rich Girlfriend, Rachel Chu is about to get married. For a long time, she's been searching for her birth father, but it is only through the meddling of certain people in her husband's family that she stumbles upon the identity and whereabouts of her father. Now she is thrust into the world of Asian high society, which is nothing like what she's used to.

It took me a while to get into the story because there are so many characters and subplots to follow, and while they were all related in some way, it was only when I was able to consistently match names to stories that I started to settle in and really get into the meat of the story.

What can I say. The people in this book have marriages that are similar to probably a lot of middle-class marriages, but when they argue about objects, they argue about more expensive things. I only know of celebrities and socialites through The Philippine Tattler and society pages, so I have no idea how accurate the accounts of these people's lives are. It's certainly written in a way that makes you feel like it could be. Since I've never been to Hong Kong, and I don't really follow the social scene there, I have no idea if the families here are based on any real families, bur I can tell you that the Filipino couple mentioned in the book come from a real well-known Filipino family. I don't know if there really is a Pedro Paul de Ayala or his wife, but most Filipinos, especially those who live in Metro Manila or Cebu will know which family you mean when you say "Ayala" (Filipinos commonly drop the "de" when referring to the de Ayalas in casual conversation).

Anyway, back to the story. As with any book that has lots of characters and stories to follow, some stories and characters are better and more interesting than others. Funny thing is, the characters I liked in the beginning, I ended up disliking or being bored with by the time the book ended, and the characters I didn't like at first, I ended up liking at the end.

Rachel, on whom the book is centered, is a good person and a pretty stand-up character throughout the story. Except for the end, she didn't really say anything bad about anyone. Needless to say, she started to bore me. With Astrid, I actually liked her for the most part, but Charlie Wu's pining after her turned me off even though it was meant to be a romantic story.

The real stars of the story for me, and the one whose sections I looked forward to reading the most was Kitty and Corinna. I would love to have someone like Corinna to give me style and lifestyle tips. Kitty, was a bit much in the beginning, but once I saw her taken down a peg, I started to warm up to her and I was cheering for her by the end of the book.

An aside: while I enjoyed reading about the adventures and the clothes of the rich and famous, I was more envious about the delicious things they got to eat. If I had the amount of money these people had, the only thing I wouldn't mind spending an obscene amount of money on would be food and travel.

Thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a side of Asian society that not a lot of people get to see for themselves.
  2. The descriptions of food will have you drooling.
  3. You really get to see the dynamics of an extended Asian family.

THE BAD:

  1. The number of characters and subplots you need to follow can be confusing at first.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like reading about the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
  2. You want to see what life is like in a big Asian family.
  3. You've wondered what it's like to live the high life in Singapore, Hong Kong or China.

RATING:
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