Crazy Rich Asians is a hilarious novel that follows the antics of a wealthy Singaporean family, filled with plenty of sarcasm but not lacking in substance either. This ensemble novel features a lot of characters but focuses around three branches of one of the most elusive, mysterious Singaporean family empires. These families are rich beyond imagination, but more notably are rooted in the kind of old money wealth, that is not flashy and in your face. An element of secrecy surrounds this family, and their class over flash mentality sets them apart from the regular rich folk who go to great lengths to show the world how much they are worth.
“These people are richer than God.”
Whilst there is a big cast and you will definitely need the helpful family tree in the front of the book to keep them all straight, the novel focuses on three cousins, one from each branch of the family tree, set in the time of one of the most elaborate and expensive weddings of the Singapore A list.
“But you do realize that even in the here and now, dark forces are at work plotting against you?”
“What is this, Harry Potter?”
Nick drives the main premise of the book when he returns home for his best friends wedding, bringing girlfriend Rachel unbeknownst into the crazy rich world he’s come from. Rachel is an outsider, and whilst she tries to fit into Nick’s world, his world is determined to spit her back out again. This section of the novel brings substance in tackling the elitism and bullying through what happens to Rachel, who despite being Chinese, is only from poor mainland China roots and tainted by growing up in America. Determined to embrace Nick’s family and learn their ways, and despite being well educated and lovely, she is seen as less and not worthy of the heir apparent to the families fortune and eventually must decide, if love is worth facing such prejudice and pain.
“Remember, every treasure comes with a price.”
Astrid, the darling of the family and socialite has seemingly the perfect life, shopping to her hearts galore, travelling wherever she wants, and coming home to her hunky husband and adorable child. But when her husband, a man who comes from a modest background starts to become distant, problems and issues Astrid didn’t even know existed begin to rear their ugly heads. Is such disparity between financial circumstances able to ruin a marriage or will love be enough to put aside pride and put up with the crazy rich asians.
“Just because some people actually work for their money doesn’t mean they are beneath you.”
Speaking of crazy rich asians, the third cousin Eddie might just be the poster boy. The most conceited of the family, Eddie is obsessed with image, status, and getting his hands on as much as wealth can buy. At the expense of love, care and kindness, Eddie puts all his energy into making sure his family is in all the magazines and the envy of them all, and really epitomises the downside to wealth.
The juxtaposition of these three cousins shows us the different ways in which wealth, status and fortune play into their lives, relationships and make them who they are. It also keeps the novel interesting, showing us a lot of different aspects of the crazy rich life. There are characters here that you love, that you love to hate, that you downright hate and that just make you laugh with their ridiculousness.
“Aiyoooooh, finish everything on your plate, girls! Don’t you know there are children starving in America?”
The novel manages to make fun of so many aspects of this uber wealthy sub culture, but also touch on the difficult aspects and issues surrounding wealth and elitism that effect they have on the lives of the family for both good and bad. It’s a novel that feels light and fun, but not empty and meaningless. I can’t wait to both watch the movie, and continue on with this series.
I read this for my 52 Book Club Reading Challenge prompt “a book with multiple character POVa book with a gem, mineral or rock in the title”. You can check out my progress here.