- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books (January 21, 2020)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1982115505
- ISBN-13: 978-1982115500
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Customer Reviews: 21 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Majesties: A Novel Hardcover – January 21, 2020
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"The Majesties is a thrilling, tender page-turner, the darker side of Crazy Rich Asians." —Krys Lee, author of Drifting House and How I Became a North Korean
“Tsao cannily pulls back the gilded surface from a wealthy Indonesian family, revealing a rotten core….the narrative unfolds in a manner that’s both suspenseful and creepily claustrophobic. The novel also prompts readers to consider the cultural relativism of stereotypes, contrasting outsider perceptions of those with Chinese heritage in both Indonesia and the U.S. Tsao depicts a family whose fabulous wealth and privilege not only blind them to the needs of others but also engender cruelty and self-destruction. This is a bold and dramatic portrayal of characters on the cusp of an impossible choice between complicit self-preservation and total annihilation.” —Publishers Weekly
“A sobering look at the dark side of extreme wealth among Chinese families in Indonesia… Tsao's depiction of domestic abuse is powerful.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A dark, delicious tale that will creep its way into your brain and leave you examining your own soul for signs of moral rot. I downed it in one greedy shot.” —Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. the World
“Tsao deftly juggles a large cast of characters, and her thorough examination of the life of a wealthy Chinese-Indonesian family, as well as her insights into the false assumptions those in the Chinese, Indonesian, and Western communities make about its members, are intelligent and lively.” —Booklist
“The Majesties, although it rolls out easily, troubles deeply, haunting and even chilling its reader well beyond the final page.” —New York Journal of Books
"Tsao spins a Crazy Rich Asians-esque saga of family wealth and deception as a nasty-fun murder mystery chronicling the events leading up to a woman's poisoning of her extended clan." —Entertainment Weekly
“Tiffany Tsao’s visceral debut…reads a bit like Crazy Rich Asians if the book began with familicide instead of romance….Why not start off the new year with the perfect tear-it-all-down read?” —CrimeReads
Select Praise (published as Under Your Wings in Australia)
"Addressing Indonesia’s violent history, the 1998 May riots, and discrimination against the country’s ethnic Chinese minority, Tiffany Tsao offers an incisive critique of rich and powerful Chinese Indonesians, family bonds, and privilege. The book challenges many assumptions of what “Indonesia” is and provides a nuanced picture of wealthy Asian families in the transnational context. A compelling page-turner, it reveals the intricate dynamics between love, ambition, and fear as we journey through dark family secrets and unlock door after door before reaching the dead end. The Majesties is a chilling novel about what a family is capable of for the sake of maintaining illusions and the desperate, destructive ways that its entrapped members must take in order to escape.” —Intan Paramaditha, author of Apple and Knife and The Wandering
“One of the most gripping, original and enlightening novels of the day.” —SA Weekend
“Tiffany Tsao’s Under Your Wings is a sharply realised page-turner with a brilliant twist, written with an effortless command of pace and suspense.” —Sydney Morning Herald
“Tiffany Tsao’s novel of sisters Gwendolyn and Estella is haunting, disturbing and vivid. It is one of those novels that has such a strong opening chapter that I questioned if the author would be able to meet my expectations for the rest of the novel. But meet them she did.” —Readings
About the Author
Tiffany Tsao was born in San Diego, California, and lived in Singapore and Indonesia during her childhood and young adulthood. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a PhD in English. In addition to writing, she translates Indonesian fiction and poetry.
21 customer reviews
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Though it is a breezy read, due to the secondary focus on insects the language can be hard to follow. Overall not bad though. Estella and Gwendolyn are sisters who have the misfortune of being born to a corrupt family, who seem to be lurking in every corner. They search for "redemption" only to find it an empty promise. Instead of hilarity and romance, murder and exile ensue. It was almost like the author read "Crazy Rich Asians" and was like, "Ha, not in Indonesia." I do not know enough about Chinese in Indonesia from my own research or the book to corroborate this sentiment. Moreover, the writing did not make me emotionally invested enough to do any deep research.
A final point was the second to last chapter, I was confused because maybe Gwendolyn and Estella are the same person a-la "Fight club"? But then I read back older scenes and that didn't seem to make sense, but then some times it did. I don't know, feel free to correct me anyone on this.
Then I started reading it. Reading and waiting. Waiting some more. Just waiting for the thrilling, dark, physiological mystery that was promised to actually start happening. It did not. It didn't even come close.
I had to force my way through this (non-existent) plot. I was bored, uninterested, and angry that what I was told would happen was not happening. At 38% I skipped to the end. That was disappointing also. Very predictable and unimaginative ending.
Rarely, and I mean 4 times, in my life do I not finish a novel. This is one of those times. I just couldn't fathom wasting my time reading this. It is a family drama at best and not even a good, exciting, dark-secret family drama.
On top of that, the writing seemed disjointed and forced. It didn't flow, it was hard to immerse myself into the story, and I couldn't connect with a single character.
On the positive side, the cover is STUNNING!
"The Majesties" was released yesterday. Yes, my review was supposed to be an ARC review to get the buzz going, but I had only one single positive thing to say (the cover) so I thought it best to keep my mouth shut until its release.
Thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for allowing me an eARC to read and give my honest review.
This book is being marketed as a thriller. But IMO it is not really a thriller.
The narrator is Gwendolyn (1st person POV). Her family is Chinese and lives in Indonesia. The book starts with her being sort of unconscious/in a coma. We find out that her sister Estella has poisoned a group of people.
The cover is so unique and the story sounded so intriguing. I like reading about different cultures. So I was excited to read this book.
But the entire story is told from Gwendolyn's POV of her thinking back to various events. This did not work for me. I kept waiting to get to the point where we found out why her sister poisoned people. And I guess we find out at the end. However I found the ending to be very confusing.
The narrator was interesting. Her job was very interesting. The location was interesting. However the whole book was just a comatose woman giving us the backstory of her life.
As Gwen slowly regains consciousness while lying in the hospital recovering from an apparent attempted murder, she must untangle the web of deceit and lies that she and her sister navigated through in order to appease their family. While Gwen lived more by her own rules, her mild-mannered and demure sister did whatever her family requested to appease their status, including marrying a less than loving man. Gwen’s memories of their childhood, their grandmother, and events that created each of their distinctive personalities slowly come back, as does the realization of what has actually happened to her and her family.
This is an interesting read, somewhat slow at times; more interesting for people who enjoy the lifestyles of rich Asians, with a sobering message interweaved within.
(I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you to Atria and NetGalley for making it available.)