Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians #1) by Kevin Kwan
So a few weeks ago I posted on Instagram that I was reading Crazy Rich Asians, but I couldn’t post on it as I was in the middle of Horrorfest VII.
So I saw this book when it first came out on Goodreads, it struck my interest and I put it on to-read, but did not read it as, well you book lovers know how it is:
But then I read this article comparing the book’s characters to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. That made me even more interested.
Then when an opportunity to get a copy of the book came my way-I could not resist. I had to read it.
So first things first? Is it really as good as the hype says it is. You know me-the more they over pump the more hmmm…let’s say exact I am in my judgements-picking apart the book.
Welll…I thought it was……
Super Freakin’ Fantastic
Now you guys know I’m not going to say that if I don’t really mean it. It was so good I didn’t want to put my book down and I am being literal-If I didn’t have to work I would have stayed up reading or just called in sick.
So I know zero about Singapore, the culture, class system, tradition, etc. I am thankful for all of Kwan’s footnotes as they were extremely helpful. Reading it reminded me of the first time I read classic literature and had no understanding of the culture of why people did what they did and had to go do all the research.
Kwan helps you out of hours of work by providing it for you. I don’t know how your publishing process went, but I imagine there was at least one person who was probably like there are too many footnotes, no one will read that, let’s just get rid of them-but let me tell you-I am so, so thankful. Thank you Mr. Kwan.
So the story begins with Rachel who has been raised by her single mother. They moved all over the country, settling in Cupertino, CA and her mother worked hard and moved up in real estate business. Rachel has studied hard, has her master’s degree, and is a Professor of Economics in New York.
So Rachel is set by a friend to meet the “perfect guy” She is completely not interested as she isn’t really looking and she doesn’t like to date Asian guys. Every time she has gone out with an Asian guy she feels as if they are more interested in her resume and transcripts than who she is as a person (I have an Asian friend who has told me she has had the same experiences), but then meets Nicholas Young. He is amazing, has an English accent, and the two fit together.
They have been dating five years and he decides to invite her to come to Singapore with him for the summer. He thinks they would have a great time, with him showing off the places he loves, and them attending his friend’s wedding.
Rachel is unsure at first but decides to go as it will be fun: she loves Nick, and she will be able to visit with her best friend from college, Goh Peik Lin. Her mother is a little worried, as she knows that Rachel isn’t going to be prepared for the traditional Asian culture having grown up in America.
When Rachel gets there she gets the surprise of her life-Nick is crazy rich. Beyond thought of all rich-like Gatsbyian rich (but legal). His family is one of the top richest in Singapore, and he is expected to be the sole heir of his paternal grandmother’s fortune. Nick thinks his family will love Rachel but…
Yes, seriously. His mother, Eleanor Young is obsessed with power and prestige. She has been maneuvering the Young life-first watching and planting herself with Nick’s father at time he was ready to be married (who incidentally has since moved to Australia to get away from her)-stealing him from his long-term girlfriend, and taking a backseat in parenting-essentially giving Nick up to his grandmother-so that he could be her sole heir. This girlfriend has thrown a serious gum in the works as his Nick is prime to be thinking of marrying and this California Asian is unacceptable.
She begins a plan to throw a more suitable woman at him and remove Rachel from the picture. As soon as she had confirmation of her name, PIs have been dispatched.
Edison Cheng is Nick’s cousin, and a very wealthy banker who is always concerned with image and aspiring for more. His brother is dating a more distasteful woman than Rachel-pop star singer Kitty Pong. His family is determined to end their engagement as well for a more “suitable match”.
Nick’s best friend is his cousin, Astrid Teo. Astrid is beautiful, stylish, and envied everywhere-every man wants her and every woman wants to be her. Astrid has her own family melodrama-intervention story. She fell in love with Charlie Wu and the two were engaged, but Astrid gave in to the pressures of her family and how they felt him being a self-made millionaire was not good enough for their daughter. Years later she met and married Michael-handsome, charming, and even more unsuitable. He is in computer technology and trying to create a company. He’s been so busy with it, making excuses to skip family dinners and such. One night Astrid looks at his phone and discovers messages from a woman-an affair?
Nick and Rachel have fun eating food (Singapore’s number one thing), spending time with friends, and then get tied into wedding stuff. Nick heads off to a truly horrible bachelor party-while Rachel is asked to join the bachelorette party. She finds herself mistreated and targeted as every woman wanted Nick and all are doing all they can to get him before the rings get placed on Rachel’s finger.
After the wedding things come to a head. Eleanor reveals the information found out by her private investigator-Rachel’s father is not dead, as she had long believed, but imprisoned in China. She and Nick’s grandma tell him he needs to end the relationship. Rachel is hurt beyond measure with the truth that her mother lied coming out-especially the way it did- and beyond furious at how Nick’s family and friends have treated her. She’s done. She heads to stay with her friend and go to China to meet her father.
Astrid has run into Charlie Wu and run away with him. He comforts her and helps her track down her errant husband as it turns out he isn’t cheating on her.
He wanted her to think so, so she would leave him. He does not want to be known as Astrid’s husband, he wants to be his own man. Charlie feels bad for the woman he loves, yes loves not loved, loves-and begins to do all he can to inflate the stock and make Michael a millionaire. As long as she’s happy he’s happy.
Nick tries to tell Rachel he doesn’t care about his family and loves her, but Rachel is not taking it. It is not enough when his family will treat her like that. Nick heads back to his friend and recent bridegroom-Colin, trying to get advice from him. Colin urges him that if he loves Rachel to fight for her.
Rachel is headed to China when she gets stopped by the surprise of her life. Nick is there, that’s expected, but he brought her MOTHER?! Since Rachel has found out the truth about her father she would not speak to her mother, but now she stops and listens. It turns out that her mother was married off to a wealthy man who ignored her. He did his duty to try and make a child, but otherwise he abused her or ignored her, with his family being even worse. She had an affair with a nice man, Kao Wei. She became pregnant, and fearing for their child’s life-Kao smuggled her out and sent her to America.
Rachel is understanding of her mother-and after all the information Eleanor found out about how awful her mother’s husband was- she is forgiving and willing to give Nick a second chance. They still have the whole Summer and head off to Marina Bay Sands.
It was amazing and the world they live in-it was unthinkable. Reading this I felt like Nick in The Great Gatsby or Dan in Gossip Girl times a 1000.
A great read I could not put down. I was fascinated with this crazy rich world.
So the question on everyone’s mind. Is this Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion?
Astrid’s story is very Persuasion I will concede that. Charlie is in love with Astrid after she turned him down he continued to love her from afar-never getting over her.
But Rachel and Nick are nothing like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.
Elizabeth was from a well-off family, curse you Pride and Prejudice (2005) that makes everyone think they are poor. Mr. Darcy was not as fun and animated as Nick. Yes, Lady Catherine did not want them to marry but their societal classes don’t quite fit. Instead this is Northanger Abbey.
Northanger Abbey tells the story of a girl from a good family-not rich or gentleman’s family, but one that does well that gets the trip of a lifetime. She goes as a companion to the big city of Bath full of pleasure and parties as such. Rachel Chu is the same. Her mother worked hard and does well for herself, as did Rachel. Like Catherine-we would consider them well off, however people of means: Nick’s family, General Tilney, Blair Waldorf, Tom Buchanan-would not. Catherine finds herself in a world full of sharks-trying to navigate a world she no idea about- just like Rachel.
Nick is wealthy man, but very modest, down to earth, approachable, and fun. Just like Mr. Tilney. Mr. Tilney meets Catherine at Bath and laughs at society’s tradition, going aganist them by speaking to her without be ing introduced, joking around, having fun. Nick is the same way. He even risk disinheritance for her-just like Tilney.
Now there are many factors trying to keep the two characters apart in Northanger Abbey. The first is Jonathan Thorpe. He trumps up how rich and wealthy Catherine is (just like when the rumors abound that Rachel is of the Tawainese plastic Chus) He tries to drive a wedge between the two as he wants Catherine’s “fortune”. He’s like all the women who are after Nick’s fortune. Also is General Tilney, Eleanor Young and him are a perfect match. Both care about controlling their children’s lives and trying to make sure they choose a path that gives them monetary bliss. Genral Tilney marries his wife for his money and wants his second son and daughter to be wealthily wedded. He steers his son toward Catherine, manipulating and doing all he can to get them together-then when he discovers that the fortune is false-sends her packing. Eleanor works the same way-she tries to get Nick with any number of “suitable women” and does her best to send Rachel packing-succeeding just like the general.
Eleanor and Astrid also share some similarities. In the movie (I know what am I saying please forgive me) Eleanor falls in love with an “unsuitable man”-one her father keeps her from marrying. He works hard to create his own business, becoming wealthy enough to please him. With Astrid same story, except the money didn’t matter-it was a class issue.
Pop star Kitty Pong is dating Alistair Cheng. She is a pop star social climber, after him for his money and very low class-just like Isabella Thorpe. Isabella Thorpe hooked onto Catherine and her brother James, becoming engaged like that. Isabella comes from a poor family and is trying her best to poach a wealthy man. When it is revealed that James Morland does not have as much money as she wants-she drops him for Captain Tilney (who ends up leaving her in the cold). Kitty follows the same pattern. When Alistair’s cousin tricks Kitty into thinking the Cheng family has nothing, she dumps Alistair for the very wealthy Bernard Tai.
So what do you think? Are you swayed by my arguments that this is Northanger Abbey? Or do you still think it has more in common with Pride and Prejudice.
Either way it is a great story and one that is well worth a read.
For more Northanger Abbey, go to No One Would Have Ever Guessed
For more Persuasion, go to Right Away I Know I Won’t Like You
For more Austen-like reads, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: A Change of Fortune