China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
June 16, 2015
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪.5
When I turned the final page of China Rich Girlfriend I immediately wanted to slip right back into the glamorous world of the characters and continue to live vicariously through their uninhibited spending sprees and poignant observations and judgements of one another. I missed their world, I craved more. Luckily for me, I knew I had the third book in the series waiting for be at the library, so I wouldn’t be away for long.
This book is an escape, above all else. Flying through pages filled with glamorous parties, extravagant private jets, and glossy descriptions of high brow life was very comfortable, and very amusing. Kwan’s descriptions are unreal in the best of ways. I ate up everything he told me, the images unfurling effortlessly in my imagination to accompany his writing. Furthermore, the countless footnotes he includes made me feel like I was actually learning, too. The cultural anecdotes, clarifications, and definitions helped to enrich his fictional narrative with actual insight into what life is like in the parts of China he depicted (obviously not for everyone who lives there). The use of the footnotes was unexpected from a light read about the uber-rich, and it added a lot for me.
This book moved away from the lives of Rachel and Nick, the main characters of Crazy Rich Asians, and focused more on other characters who had previously existed only on the periphery of their narrative. I was a little disappointed by this, these two were a big reason I picked up the second book of the trilogy in the first place, but I did like the plot-line surrounding Astrid, Nick’s cousin, and Colette and Carlton. A third thread, focusing on Kitty Pong, a former soap opera star, did not interest me so much. Her storyline was bizarre and seemed very disconnected from the rest of the book. I really didn’t care about her family or her social standing, and would probably have enjoyed the nearly 400 page book more if her chapters were completely cut.
I definitely could have done with a little more action and actual plot in this book. I felt like nothing really happened until the last few chapters when a ton of unanticipated crazyness was suddenly crammed in (Rachel gets poisoned, reconciles with her father’s new wife, we find out that Bernard Tai got plastic surgery and has Kristen Bell’s face, and he treats his daughter like she lives on a commune, Kitty kidnaps her daughter and has a new boyfriend). I’m sorry, what?? Why couldn’t that have been sprinkled throughout the book? The way it was written did allow me to fly through the end of the story with literally no inkling of how it would end, but it felt very off-balanced.
I am excited to read the final novel in this series, although if it follows in the footsteps of China Rich Girlfriend and tells the stories of new characters, I’m not sure how much I’ll enjoy it. As much as I like the idea of slipping back into this upper crust of Chinese society, the endless descriptions of wealth may be getting old if there aren’t familiar characters I am invested in to help get me through them.
All in all, this was a fun read, and I would recommend it with the caveat that not a lot happens, and you have to be excited for the prospect of lots and lots of details about living large.
This book comes accompanied by these crazy rich White Chocolate Snickerdoodle Blondies (see what I did there?). Studded with white chocolate chips and rippled with a layer of cinnamon sugar, these buttery bars are hefty in the best of ways. I threw in cinnamon chips to add some extra flavor, and this has quickly become one of my favorite bar recipes. They are super easy to throw together, but have an unexpected decadence that makes them seem fancy, which is exactly how you want to feel while perusing Kwan’s stories.