Loving travel and looking to escape the Summer heat (I can’t stand the heat. I know. UnAustralian), I travelled to China and Hong Kong with my husband last December. It was an adventure of epic proportions – The Great Wall of China; The Forbidden City; Tiananmen Square; The Terracotta Soldiers; The Bund! An entire section of my bucket list tick, tick, tick. There is something that has always fascinated me about the Orient. Growing up in a western household, most of my exposure to Asian culture has been through food and of course, great books. In high school I studied Raise the Red Lantern and Wild Swans. Both works centred on the lives of Chinese women in the not too distant past but to me and my contemporaries seemed a lifetime away. The rich tapestry of knowledge and insight gained from these tomes has stayed with me and I revisit these texts frequently.
China Rich Girlfriend. Possibly the antithesis of Red Lantern and Wild Swans but oh so deliciously enjoyable and so much fun. Kevin Kwan treats the reader to an Asia that cannot be found in ‘Lonely Planet’. China Rich Girlfriend is actually the sequel to Kwan’s seminal Crazy Rich Asians. While both books stand alone, I would recommend starting with Crazy Rich Asians to start to get a feel for the families and their hilarious idiosyncrasies. These families are, as the original title suggests, crazy rich. Their wealth would make Buffet, Gates and Trump weep into their stock portfolios. Old money and new money compete for the inner sanctum of untouchable Asia.
There is something universally levelling about an interfering mother. The prying and meddling shenanigans of the mothers (and mothers-in-law) in China Rich Girlfriend are scarily familiar, I would argue, to children of many different cultural backgrounds. Prospective spouses are never good enough for [insert adored and spoiled child here]. The gossip, innuendos and scheming of these women reduces Joan Collins to mere amateur.
This novel is a whole lotta fun. If you are looking for a good giggle set against a hidden and clandestine backdrop, this is definitely worth the time invested.