China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
Published: May 2016
It’s the eve of Rachel Chu’s wedding, and she should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond, a wedding dress she loves, and a fiancé willing to thwart his meddling relatives and give up one of the biggest fortunes in Asia in order to marry her. Still, Rachel mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be there to walk her down the aisle.
Then a chance accident reveals his identity. Suddenly, Rachel is drawn into a dizzying world of Shanghai splendor, a world where people attend church in a penthouse, where exotic cars race down the boulevard, and where people aren’t just crazy rich … they’re China rich.
If you haven’t read Crazy Rich Asians, there might be spoilers of that book in this review!
With Nick on the rocks with his family and Rachel planning their intimate wedding, Rachel can’t help but feel the relationships with their parents need some mending. She wants to find her birth father and invite him to the wedding, and Nick’s mother wants to be involved (though, understandingly, not as crazy-involved as he’s worried she’ll be). When Eleanor’s digging unearths Rachel’s true father — and he’s filthy, mind-blowingly, extraordinarily rich — Rachel and Nick are swept up on a trip to Shanghai. But their appearance shakes things up for friends and family in China, and Rachel must decide what’s really important: a life of extravagance in her father’s world, or a life she’s built with Nick knowing that she may never see her father again.
This was just as fun, if not more over-the-top than the last novel! China Rich Girlfriend explores Chinese bajillionaires and “new money,” family secrets, living up to society’s expectations, and so much more. Rachel, Nick, Charlie, and Astrid continue to ground the narrative in reality while the rest of their crazy world spins out of control.
Some of our favorite characters from the first book appear again here, and others who were more secondary (such as Kitty Pong!) take center stage. New characters are introduced, and their wild lifestyles and interesting backstories shed light on the constraints of society that still exist today. For example, Kitty Pong wants to do good in society, but instead of throwing money everywhere like she wishes to, she “needs” to learn how to be restrained, quiet, demur, and behind-the-scenes. New characters, such as Carlton and his instagram-famous “girlfriend but not my girlfriend” have interesting dynamics, in that both are pressured to marry and they likely will, but they want to find themselves as individuals first (both, essentially, wanting to pursue their careers).
In many ways this made Rachel, Nick, and their relationship more two-dimensional. They sit and watch the drama unfold, like the reader. But Astrid and Charlie — and likewise Astrid and Michael — really propel the novel interspersed through all the drama. They try so hard to maintain a good and safe friendship, but Michael (understandably) is swept up in his sudden self-made fortune and is obsessed with appearances in a way Astrid’s family never was. The tension was palpable and the dynamics were great with this! Astrid is the shining star of this installment.
I’m curious what Rich People Problems will bring!
This qualifies as book 9 of 16 in my TBR challenge.