11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
As It Turns Out, NOT the Sickest Idea for a New Reality TV Show Since "The Real Beverly Hillbillies",
This review is from: Crazy Rich Asians (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program (What's this?)but rather a sprawling, comic novel set amongst the New Money, the Old Money, and the OMG So Much Money of modern Singapore.
I knew this 400+ pager was going to be something of an ordeal when I saw that it started with a two page "simplified" family tree...
I knew it was going to be a fun ordeal when said footnotes had me laughing out loud...
When American Economics Professor Rachel Chu, daughter of a self made success single mother, accepts her boyfriend Nicholas Young's invitation to spend the summer in Singapore where he will be Best Man at his best friend's wedding, she has no idea what she is getting herself into, in large part because a conditioned-since-childhood-against-talking-about-it Nick fails to adequately prepare her, in fact fails to warn her at ALL! His family isn't just rich, they are "crazy rich", and they've had it long enough for many of them to have put on airs and gotten their noses permanently stuck up in the air, particularly about who should even think of marrying the most eligible bachelor in Asia.
The novel starts out quite comically but gradually grows more serious as the long knives out for Rachel begin to strike home and Nick's cousin Astrid who has everything and has had since birth watches her picture perfect life fall apart. Author Kevin Kwan, who clearly knows of these people if he doesn't actually know them, is writing at least partially in judgment, but it is not a judgment born of hatred or envy but rather one born out of sadness at what their foolish behavior is truly costing them.
After all (no matter what they might happen to believe) the rich really aren't all that different from us or especially from each other. What differences that exist are primarily attitudinal and behavioral, something that can be learned... and unlearned. It is not that wealth honestly and honorably obtained is evil, but rather that increasing wealth increases one's opportunities to do evil and tends to decrease the number of people among one's acquaintances with the guts to tell you you shouldn't.
As the most expensive wedding in the history of civilization spirals to its ridiculous climax and Rachel is wounded to the core by people she (and we readers) had originally thought much better of, she begins to question whether she would even want to be part of a family capable of such no matter how much she loves a hapless and apologetic Nick. Can True Love fail to triumph after all? Well, before you give up on it, Mr. Kwan begins to surprise. Though people we once admired behave despicably, others we once thought little of rise to nobility. Maybe it will yet prove possible "to be young, in love, and gloriously, CRAZILY rich."
This would make a heck of a movie though it might give Hollywood quite a strain assembling that much Asian acting talent. It would however IMHO make a stomach-turning-ly AWFUL reality TV show. Think the Kardashians and Paris Hilton but with more taste, much more arrogance, and you've-got-to-be-kidding-me more money.
Defects? Only one comes to mind. In the penultimate chapter a Karmicly appropriate disaster befalls apparently sincere but clueless Christian Carol Tai, who didn't let her "faith" keep her from involving herself in the decidedly non-Christian behavior of her friends (or from apparently doing a godawful job of raising her son). The problem is that it requires a walk on Christian preacher character not clearly identified as either a fraud or a lunatic to do things no modern Christian preacher would ever do. It isn't just that any modern preacher would be extremely reluctant to destroy museum quality pieces because they once were idols even at the request of their now repentant if idiotic owners, but also that the definition of what qualifies as Satanic "every object bearing the depiction of an animal or a face" is arguably Islamic rather than Christian. (That's why Islamic art never depicts humans or animals while Christian art is chock full of them.)
Still, I suppose I can understand the author's choice. After all, no Christian fanatic no matter how offended will do anything worse than condemn the book and the author for it. Offended Muslim fanatics can be a little bit harder to deal with (ask Salman Rushdie), and anyway if invited, a realistically portrayed Christian preacher WOULD have found Carol Tai's house full of idols...
to the god Mammon.