With a title like Crazy Rich Asians, there was no way I could resist this book. I’ve used Audible before, but haven’t really stuck with it (I found the audiobooks I’ve purchased before to be boring and they had issues keeping my attention), but I gave it another shot, and I’m so glad I did. Now that I’ve listened to the whole book, I would highly recommend the audiobook over the print version (not that I’ve read it, but still). If you’re not a Chinese person who lives in Singapore (like me), I don’t think you will get the full effect of this great novel if you read it instead of listen to it. The accents are delightful and would have been lost on me if I hadn’t heard it myself. Lynn Chen, the narrator, is extremely talented and it is with her help that Kevin Kwan is able to develop these characters so stunningly well.
Crazy Rich Asians tells the story of Nick and Rachel, a couple living in New York. Rachel has a doctorate and is extremely smart, and Nick, unbeknownst to Rachel until he invites her to stay in Singapore with his family for the summer, is extremely rich. These are the type of riches that we Americans could never even imagine, let alone touch. Nick’s family spends money like we breathe air. And of course, with grand money comes grand responsibility, and as soon as Singapore finds out that Nick has a serious girlfriend, everyone—most of all, his own mother—do everything they can to break them up so Nick can “marry a woman from a proper family.”
From the second that Nick and Rachel step off the plane to Singapore, hilarity ensues (at least to me). I’m sure that the ladies in Singapore aren’t meaning to be hilarious—they probably think that the lives they live are completely normal—but it’s essentially a new age, Asian retelling of a Jane Austen novel. These women are reveling in their riches while thinking they are making sacrifices by seeking proper girls for their sons to marry. Nick’s mother takes Xanax for her nerves—my nerves, my nerves, right?—and flies all the way to China just to look for something she can use against a girl she doesn’t even know. The whole thing is fucking ridiculous, but I don’t doubt for a moment that this is how it really is. The way in which the story was told was quite realistic.
Fashion icons are dropped throughout the novel, and the secret fashionista tucked somewhere inside me squee’d at the dresses these women (mostly Astrid, Nick’s cousin) were constantly buying. We’re talking, like $20,000 each. This novel takes us all over the world, from New York, to Singapore, to Paris, to China and back, and the imagery was gorgeous throughout.
As the big reveal comes to light (I was waiting for it from the very beginning), I did find Rachel’s behavior to be quite annoying. She didn’t strike me as the type of character to act this way (I don’t want to spoil it so I won’t give too much information, but you’ll know what I mean when you experience it), and I wanted to smack her upside the head. Though her reasoning at the end of it made perfect sense, but she could have handled it much, much better. The ending was also disappointing. Not because of the plot but really because it ended abruptly and I was expecting much, much more. I’m all for a creative ending to let the reader figure some things out for themselves, but there were too many loose ends for my liking. Unless of course the author is planning a sequel, which I would be all for.
Despite the last few chapters being disappointing, I thoroughly enjoyed this well narrated (and well written) novel that I never saw coming. It had me laughing out loud during more times than I can count and rooting for the couple as everyone else tried to tear them apart in some very creative ways. It was a wildly imaginative story that couldn’t be very far from how some people actually live. It’s another world to people like me, but I really enjoyed experiencing—as they say—”rich people problems.”
A Bestselling Author, NPO Director, and Psychology Today Columnist from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.
Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.
From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.