This book got me through Black Friday and the grueling Thanksgiving weekend, in which I had three consecutive family dinners. I’ve never had so much pie in my life. This was the first Thanksgiving I’ve had in the US in 10 years, so it was extra special and calorific.
Kevin Kwan’s highly anticipated sequel to his international bestseller Crazy Rich Asians picks up where we left our heroes: Second generation Chinese Rachel is about to marry Nick, the sweet, unassuming heir to one of the biggest fortunes in Asia. On the eve of her wedding, her estranged mother-in-law, Eleanor swoops in and introduces her to her long lost father. Turns out he’s a billionaire too. But when they honeymoon in Shanghai to get acquainted with Rachel’s new family, not everyone is as keen on meeting her.
As with the previous novel, dialogue isn’t Kwan’s strong suit, but that’s not why you’re here. It’s all about the smut, and he delivers. The shopping and property damage is even more outrageous, thanks in part to two new characters: Rachel’s half-brother, Carlton, a Prince Harry type bad boy and his on-off girlfriend, Colette, Shanghai’s fashion icon.
Meanwhile, Nick’s cousin and Singaporean It Girl, Astrid struggles to keep her marriage together as her husband’s company takes off. She frequently confides in her former flame, Charlie, who’s still pining for her, but doesn’t have the nerve to tell her.
Then there’s Kitty Pong, the former soap star who, despite marrying into wealth, is still ostracized by her old money peers. To help her climb the social ranks and revamp her image, she hires a consultant. As part of Kitty’s makeover, she is advised to never wear Cavalli again.
I recommend reading Crazy Rich Asians first, because the cast of characters is so large, you’ll have a hard time following along otherwise. Although I think Kwan whittled down the number this time around. In the first book, I felt like I needed a spreadsheet to keep up with all of them.
Crazy Rich Asians will soon be adapted into a movie by Color Force, the same production company behind The Hunger Games. Kwan has talked about a top Hollywood producer who wanted to whitewash the cast: “Even before the book came out, he said, ‘There’s no way we can make this unless Rachel is white.’ And I just said, ‘Well, then you’re not making it. You’ve completely missed the point.’”
Wow, that sounds really familiar.