Two years ago, I read Kevin Kwan’s debut novel, Crazy Rich Asians. It was a delightful romp through Singapore (and other locations) that featured some of the wealthiest people in the world. When I found out that a sequel was coming out, I placed a request at the library months in advance. China Rich Girlfriend arrived about a week after its release, and I was very excited about diving right into the book.
China Rich Girlfriend features an ensemble cast of characters, most of whom appeared in the first book. While there are many subplots, the main story features Rachel Chu. In the first book, she was forced to dodge accusations that she was a marrying her fiancé for his money. How could this be true when she had no idea that Nick belonged to one of Singapore’s wealthiest families? Nick’s mother Eleanor has returned, and she has managed to track down Rachel’s father. Even though Rachel and Nick are content to live typical American lives (they both work as professors), they find themselves flying to Shanghai to get to know Rachel’s father and his family.
Once they are there, Nick and Rachel are introduced to Carlton- Rachel’s half brother, and Colette- his friend and not his girlfriend (or so they claim). Rachel is excited about getting to know her family, but something does not seem right.
Meanwhile, Kitty Pong is desperate to become part of Hong Kong’s social elite, but can she overcome her past as a soap opera star and win over the staid matrons whose approval determines her social future?
Speaking of soap operas, that is exactly what China Rich Girlfriend is. This book is full of over-the-top situations and ostentatious displays of wealth. The story is fairly predictable, but there were some surprises along the way. The predictability didn’t bother me because everything was so fun. Kwan relies heavily on name-dropping certain brands, and that helps the book become a fascinating look at modern China; the characters are not typical, but opening up the country to capitalism has made some people ridiculously wealthy.
I would absolutely recommend China Rich Girlfriend to anyone who is looking for some light summer reading. I enjoyed reading this book. It’s delightfully satirical and just plain fun. I am looking forward to the movie version of Crazy Rich Asians as well as the final book in this trilogy.