Recently, I’ve been reading books I first encountered as movies. Admittedly, if they’re not classics, I’m usually not in a rush to read the novel of a film I’ve seen. However, in the case of Crazy Rich Asians, I’m very pleased I did.
I took my kids to see the film when it came out last summer, and we really enjoyed it. While the movie focused on the romantic leads, Nick and Rachel, and peripherally on Nick’s glamorous cousin Astrid, the novel allowed more time to delve into a whole range of colorful characters, and was well worth the read.
At the heart of this story is Rachel Chu, a high achiever Chinese-American who grew up in modest circumstances and is now an economics professor at NYU. When her boyfriend and fellow academic Nick Young invites her to Singapore to meet his family and friends, she believes he’s ready to take their relationship to the next level.
Unfortunately, Nick has been reluctant to share information about his Singapore family with Rachel. As we quickly learn, Nick has his reasons for keeping quiet, and we follow along as seemingly every woman and girl in Singapore plots to separate Rachel from Singapore’s most eligible bachelor.
The novel is filled with colorful (and downright insane) characters, all worshiping at the altar of money, high fashion, luxury cars, precious jewelry and prestigious real estate. I was tearing through the pages, enjoying this foray into the shallow, materialistic and highly amusing world of the patrician classes of Singapore and Hong Kong.
Even if you saw the movie, don’t miss out on Kevin Kwan’s thoroughly enjoyable novel.