Book Review Books

Book Review: China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

This is the second book in Kevin Kwan’s “Crazy Rich Asians” trilogy. After I read the first, I wasn’t sure I would continue the series. I felt that it treated women like hysterical shrews without any real redemption or character.

I’m happy to say that “China Rich Girlfriend” doesn’t view women that way- at least not quite as much. It gives two of its best characters (Astrid, Rachel) strength in the face of adversity – as much adversity as the super rich can go through. (Spoilers ahead, but I loved this book in case you don’t want to continue reading).

Astrid finds herself still married to Michael after her finding out he was cheating on her during the first book. Her old friend and flame Charlie helped Michael succeed in business and earn his own millions, although Michael doesn’t know this. Money changes Michael, and he treats Astrid like a possession and not his wife. Soon, though, Astrid realizes who really loves her (Charlie) and stands up for herself in an awesome girl power moment.

Rachel and Nick are finally getting marred even though Nick is still estranged from his mother and grandmother. His mother, Eleanor, secretly finds Rachel’s long lost father and, upon realizing that this missing father is super rich,  Eleanor interrupts Rachel and Nick’s wedding rehearsal in a helicopter to reunite them.

This sends the story down a new path where Rachel and Nick travel to China to visit with her new father and brother. Little do they know that her stepmother doesn’t want Rachel around and is trying to keep Rachel and her father apart. Rachel’s brother, Carlton, and his girlfriend, Collette, enter the scene. Their stories take center stage though, leaving Rachel and Nick as side characters for most of the book. Then Rachel is mysteriously poisoned and suddenly Nick and Rachel are the main characters again.

I’m not a fan of Collette. She is spoiled and soulless and buys affection with money. I’m a bit bummed that Rachel and Nick took a back seat to her character, but I think Kwan really wanted to show just how deeply spoiled narcissism can run in well to do families in Asia.

Meanwhile, Kitty Pong has married Bernard Tai and had a child. Kitty remains in the public eye trying desperately to get people to see her as a rich woman and not a former porn star. Bernard is mysteriously absent, and rumors abound as to his whereabouts. Kitty befriends Corrine who tries to help her become a welcome part of rich society. Eventually, though, Kitty begins to realize that doing so while hiding her true self may not be worth it. It gives depth to Kitty’s character. I’m interested to see where her character goes in the third book.

Over all, I liked Kwan’s writing better in “China Rich Girlfriend”. He gives depth to different characters in this story while faves like Peik Lin are almost nonexistent. It’s unfortunate, but also fun to see new characters come to the forefront. The ridiculousness of how the super rich live their lives is told with hilarity and sarcastic wit, something Kwan has gotten much better at since the first book.

Kwan tells some of the story through newspaper articles and journal entries. Normally this would bother me, but Kwan does a good job of moving it along in an interesting way. If you liked “Crazy Rich Asians”, you’ll like this one too.

I just started reading the third book in the series. Can’t wait to see where these characters end up.

 

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