Friday, April 8, 2016

Kwan's Rich Girlfriend

"Kevin Kwan, bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians, is back with a wickedly funny new novel of social climbing, secret e-mails, art-world scandal, lovesick billionaires, and the outrageous story of what happens when Rachel Chu, engaged to marry Asia’s most eligible bachelor, discovers her birthfather.

On the eve of her wedding to Nicholas Young, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Asia, Rachel should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond from JAR, a wedding dress she loves more than anything found in the salons of Paris, and a fiancĂ© willing to sacrifice his entire inheritance in order to marry her. But Rachel still mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be able to walk her down the aisle. Until: a shocking revelation draws Rachel into a world of Shanghai splendor beyond anything she has ever imagined. Here we meet Carlton, a Ferrari-crashing bad boy known for Prince Harry-like antics; Colette, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father. Meanwhile, Singapore’s It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband. A romp through Asia’s most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriend brings us into the elite circles of Mainland China, introducing a captivating cast of characters, and offering an inside glimpse at what it’s like to be gloriously, crazily, China-rich."

~ China Rich Girlfriend from Goodreads

Hear me out, folks.  On everything I love, I wish I had more to say about Kevin Kwan’s China Rich Girlfriend.  I really, really do.  However, I don’t.  Or at least have much to expound on about my minuscule disappointment with the book.  A disappointment brewed by the contrived connectivity with each of his characters’ story threads.  Including threads developed completely from the core cast (Nick and Rachel).  So it's kind of strange when I think about how much I loved his previous book, Crazy Rich Asian.  I guess I assumed too much going into his second book.
Nevertheless, after reading China Rich Girlfriend in January, I couldn't find the right words on how I felt about the book.  Good or bad!  So months later, my resounding complaint is still that contrived connectivity issue.  It's like a wall I can't climb.  It's all I think when I recall my experience.  Which has lead me to this late post.
As a fan of Asian dramas you’d think none of this would bother me, though.  "This" as in handling a 20-episode series featuring a gang of characters unfolding different story lines in worlds inexperienced to me.  (The longest series I've watched was Ice Adonis, coming in at a whooping 100+ episodes.  And worth every single dime of attention.)  Of course story lines that bisect, cross, and run parallel.  No, for real.  Click on any Korean melodrama and you’ll see what I’m talking about within the first episode.  But with books–considering it’s a different level of engagement–its frustrating when characters seem pushed on stage to tie in connections.  Furthermore, pushed into his or her performance.  The feeling is almost unexplainable, but when I see an author forcing certain plot points to happen... I can't buy it.
I won't give much away, but one example I'm thinking is the halfway-around-the-world-in-a-day to take stage in a particular scenario type of situation.  Those annoy me the most.  You know, souping up odd coincidences and circumstances to push the already lukewarm drama–despite the humorous flavor of the material.
So yes, that was my only real problem with the book.  Other than that I took the liveliness of China Rich Girlfriend for what it was.  Grinning the whole way through.  Sure, I get suspending disbelief is necessary to absorb a narrative like this.  But man, sometimes that suspension has a limit.  Even with a book describing the luxurious and delusional lives of wealthy Asian families.

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