China Rich Girlfriend
by Kevin Kwan
I finally got to Kevin Kwan’s sequel to Crazy Rich Asians! China Rich Girlfriend was an excellent follow up. Kwan kept his humor (especially in the footnotes, which I love), as well as his information about the Asian culture, this time focusing on Chinese culture (versus Singaporean, as in the first book). This book was easier to get into because I had read the first one, and I didn’t get as bogged down with all the information as it was more familiar. I thought Kwan was so clever in how he approached this sequel. There were familiar characters, but the plot was entirely new, complex, interesting, and just as riveting at the first (but in a totally fresh way). I was very impressed and I read that he might be making this series into a trilogy — yes please! I certainly hope he does.
China Rich Girlfriend picks up right where Crazy Rich Asians leaves off (there will be a few spoilers if you have not read the first book yet). Rachel and Nick have resolved their relationship and are getting married. The night before their wedding, Nick’s mother (who has been estranged from Nick since the end of the last book) flies in on a helicopter (because that’s the only way she can reach Nick and Rachel) to share that she has found Rachel’s actual father and he wants to meet her and her mom. She also apologizes profusely for trying to push Rachel away and is forgiven by Rachel and Nick. Rachel meets her father (Bao Gaoliang), marries Nick the next day, and that summer they fly to China to stay with Gaoliang and meet his wife, Shaoyen, and son, Carlton. The rest of the book chronicles their time in China, where Shaoyen wants nothing to do with them, Gaoliang avoids them (because of Shaoyen), and Carlton embraces them. A friendship forms between Rachel, Nick, Carlton, and Carlton’s pseudo girlfriend, Colette. The four of them see the sights in China and Paris and have a delightful time until a few things become clear . . . (spoilers ahead) . . .Gaoliang views Carlton as a failure (which is not wholly unfounded, but what he doesn’t know is that Carlton is trying to change), and he sees Rachel as more reliable and someone to pass his legacy onto. Shaoyen sees Rachel as a threat to Carlton and a shameful part of Gaoliang’s past, and therefore wants absolutely nothing to do with her. Colette originally likes Rachel, but when she overhears that Gaoliang may favor Rachel over Carlton, she goes a little nuts. Her personal assistant takes her reaction and runs with it, poisoning Rachel and almost killing her. In the end, Rachel recovers (by being treated by the best doctors). and Shaoyen sees Rachel’s true nature and accepts her (as Gaoliang and Carlton already have). Also, Colette’s true nature is revealed when it comes out that even though she didn’t try to kill Rachel, she does not truly love Carlton and is rather a snob. This was so sad because I actually really liked her and thought that she was nice, and not rotten, but happily, Carlton didn’t get fooled! There are some other side stories that get tied up nicely, like Charlie and Astrid ending up together.
Summing it up: I thought Kwan was once again brilliant and clever, and his writing was captivating. I highly recommend this one!
All the best, Abbey