Book Review Books

Book Review – Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

“Rich People Problems” was the perfect escapism read for our quarantined times. It’s witty and sarcastic, much like my own personality.

Su Yi, the matriarch of the rich family living in Tyersall Park, has had a heart attack. The doctors don’t think she will live much longer. When word reaches Rachel and Nick, Rachel convinces Nick to fly back to Singapore to mend broken fences before his grandmother passes away.

Eddie, Nick’s greedy and selfish cousin, has other plans. He lies to his family and tells them that Su  Yi doesn’t want to see Nick when he arrives. Eddie wants Tyersall Park, the family estate worth billions and believe that since Nick is estranged from Su Yi that Eddie will inherit it all. The family believes him.

Astrid is not around to stop Eddie. She is off getting engaged to Charlie Wu in secret. Her soon to be ex-husband, Michael, has been spying on her and Charlie’s every move. He even gets a hold of footage of Astrid and Charlie having sex and threatens to release the footage unless Astrid gives him $5 billion. Michael had a photographer secretly photograph Charlie’s proposal to Astrid and sells it the the press. This enrages Astrid’s secretive parents and they forbid Astrid from seeing Su Yi as well, leaving her on the outs with Nick.

Meanwhile, Kitty Pong is still trying to find her way into the world of rich people acceptance. She employs Oliver, one of Nick and Astrid’s poorer relations, to help her. All the while, Collette (Kitty’s step daughter who also was partially responsible of Rachel’s poisoning in the previous book) has married a British Royal. Kitty and Collette, who have never actually met in person, are bitter rivals. Because that is apparently what happens when rich people have nothing better to do.

Su Yi’s loyal servants sneak in Astrid and Nick to see their grandmother. Astrid finds out that Su Yi gave her blessing to Charlie for the proposal and wants Astrid to find happiness. Nick asks for his grandmothers forgiveness and realizes that he already had it.

When Su Yi finally passes, she leaves Tyersall Park to many members of the family. Most want to sell to developers who will destroy the family home. Nick, with Rachel’s help, tries to find a way to save the property as is.

This is a glitterly, over the top ending to the trilogy. And I mean “over the top” as a compliment. Kwan is visual in his descriptions of fashion, architecture, and decor. Some of his characterizations leave something to be desired (I’m looking at you Kitty Pong, and Eddie) but he made Su Yi a vulnerable and multi-layered character. Astrid also has a couple moments when she really stands up for herself and I felt myself wanting to applaud a woman who had been silenced by men her whole life finally get to have a say in her own life.

Part of me wishes there were more of this world to read from. And isn’t that what makes good storytelling great? The ability to make your reader want more? I think so.

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