After a slow start this month with Other People’s Houses, I finally read and review Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians. I now “get” the hype.
OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES – Abbi Waxman
Rating: 2.5 stars
Other People’s Houses is written through multiple points of view by an ensemble cast. It’s basically about four families who live in the same neighbourhood. As the title suggests, they are in and out of each other’s lives. Frances, car-pool queen and all-round-saint, catches neighbour Anne in a compromising position one morning and is unwillingly drawn into another couple’s marriage. Bill’s wife Julie, mysteriously goes missing, and Frances’ cousin Iris, isn’t being honest with her wife Sara about having another baby.
The author cleverly takes us into each house, writing from the perspectives of the inhabitants. I was completely absorbed and drawn in by the characters as I was reading. However, although I usually enjoy this type of neighbourhood, “Desperate Housewives” type of book, this one fell a little flat for me. I felt it didn’t really “go” anywhere. There was no real plot. I got somewhat frustrated as I wondered when the meat of the story would arrive. The author teases a few possibilities, but then these lead nowhere. That said, there were aspects of the novel I did enjoy and it started out with a lot of promise. Sadly, it just doesn’t live up to this promise.
Good for an overnight flight or to read after a stressful day but otherwise, sadly somewhat forgettable.
CRAZY RICH ASIANS – Kevin Kwan
Rating: 4 stars
Crazy Rich Asians isn’t a new book, but it’s been getting a lot of buzz lately with the release of the third book in the series, and a movie of the same name. (Check out the trailer here.) So, I decided to finally read the book and I am so glad I did! It’s a huge amount of fun!
Crazy Rich Asians is a romp through the absurdly privileged lives of a handful of Singapore’s super-elite seen through the eyes of newcomer, Rachel Chu. Rachel doesn’t know much about her boyfriend, Nick Young’s family, but is happy to join him on a trip home for a friend’s wedding. She receives the shock of her life as she learns that Nick is a member of an uber-wealthy, highly regarded family in Singapore. As she struggles to win over his family, especially his very challenging mother, she starts to question if she will actually be able to make it work with Nick.
I devoured Crazy Rich Asians (and have since read the rest of the trilogy), enjoying the descriptions of the life of the super-rich, every name brand drop at a time. The supporting cast are great fun too. From Nick’s snobby mother, and her equally snobby friends, to his kind but beautiful cousin Astrid, and his awful, pretentious cousin Eddie. Pure escapism! This really is a quick read that is complete entertainment. I have never been to Asia, so this book also explored new territory for me, which I really enjoyed.
Overall, I loved reading about the lifestyle of the rich, the fashion, the shopping, and the travel. It’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek read for when you don’t feel like straining your mind too much. Also, look out for the footnotes, they are so much fun to read!
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