First of all, I have to say that Kevin Kwan never fails to amaze me with his incredible writing. I first saw Crazy Rich Asians while browsing the bookstore one time, but I had other books to read, so I put it back on the shelf. Then I finally read it and enjoyed it. For those who haven’t read it, it’s about this economics professor named Rachel Chu, who dates a history professor named Nicholas (“Nick”) Young (who funny enough has the same name as the famous basketball player and Iggy Azalea’s ex). Nick takes her to Singapore to meet his family, and Rachel discovers that they are super wealthy. Turns out that Nick’s mom, Eleanor, hates Rachel and thinks that if Nick marries her, it will cause the family to go into financial misfortune since Rachel doesn’t come from means. The trip ends up being stressful for Rachel because she has to deal with everyone’s criticisms about her marrying Nick. Rachel moves back to New York, telling Nick to not come see her because she thinks that it will cause further pain for his mother and the rest of his family.
In China Rich Girlfriend, the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians, Nick and Rachel are back in New York and are planning to get married soon. However, Eleanor disrupts the wedding and tells Rachel about her long-lost father, who she hasn’t seen in years. Eleanor tracked down Rachel’s father and tells her to come see him. Rachel meets him and finds out that she has family in China that is richer than even Nick’s family in Singapore. She even meets her brother, Carlton, who she hasn’t met before. His friend Colette is a super wealthy model who spoils Rachel during her visit while also dealing with her parents’ disapproval of her love for Carlton and not Richie, the super rich guy they were trying to get her to marry. Meanwhile, Astrid Leong, Nick’s cousin, is dealing with a terrible marriage to Michael, who didn’t come from wealth but is now a tech billionaire, and her love for Charlie Wu, another tech billionaire who was Astrid’s first love before Michael. Kitty Pong is trying to go undercover after her breakup with Alastair Cheng lands her in hot water, and seeks the advice of a woman named Corinna, who tells her to dress down and behave in ways that won’t give her away as Kitty (this ends up backfiring badly). At the core of all this nonsense is Rachel, who just wants to have a nice marriage to Nick and not have to deal with all the drama that comes with being married to one of the richest guys on the planet.
If anything, this novel taught me that while money itself isn’t the root of all evil, it’s what people do with money that can really mess someone up. We’ve all heard the phrase “Money doesn’t buy happiness”, and while it’s good to have money to pay your bills, rent and occasional luxuries, spending lots of money just because you have a huge inheritance doesn’t ultimately lead to satisfaction. Colette and her friends spend lots of money shopping and going out to eat, but Colette lashes out at her parents and even towards the end lashes out at Rachel, calling her ungrateful and a bad friend even when Rachel didn’t do anything to upset her. Colette wants more and more stuff, but she always ends up feeling unfulfilled. Even though Nick comes from wealth, he still wants to live a down-to-earth life with Rachel without worrying about his inheritance. Even though Rachel’s brother and parents has lots of money, Rachel still holds strong to her roots because her single mother, Kerry, raised her to persevere even when they struggled financially living in a pricey place like New York. When Carlton sees Richie embarrass Colette by proposing to her and then throwing a tantrum when she tells him no, he bets all this money he has on drag racing Richie, unaware that he already got in a very bad car accident and nearly died. When he fumes about it, Rachel goes to comfort him and convince him that it’s not worth it to fight back with Richie. Carlton tells her in fury that she needs to get out of his life and that he wishes he never met Rachel, but then realizes what he said and breaks down in tears. Rachel doesn’t let anyone’s pretentiousness get to her because she dealt with it with Nick’s family, and this makes her one of the few down-to-earth characters in the novel.
All I can say is, I can’t wait to read the last novel in the trilogy, Rich People Problems. And I hope they make a movie for the second and third novels of the trilogy. 🙂
China Rich Girlfriend: A Novel by Kevin Kwan. 481 pp.