4 / 5 Stars
Bold, brassy and fun, but slightly 'trash mag'.
Ha! What to make of a book like this?! On the one hand, it's a dry, slightly satirical glimpse at Asia's upper echelons... on the other hand, it's a bit like dipping into a bumper edition of Hello Magazine; all society and style, not much actual substance.
But first, a bit of an overview. Rachel and Nick, both Asian, live in New York. They're really happy together, until the moment that Nick decides to take Rachel home to meet his family. Turns out that his folks aren't just rich, they're mega rich - and they're not too happy about a 'nobody' marrying into their clan...
This novel is essentially a classic 'Romeo and Juliet' style affair. We've got the thwarted lovers, the controlling parents, the ridiculous feuding; all the key elements are there. On this level, it's a fairly bog-standard book.
However, where it comes into its own is its sharp observations of Asia's rich. It highlights not just the glitz and glamour (and the exuberant spending) but the snobbery, the pomposity and occasionally, the cruelty too. As a Westerner reading it, I was fascinated by the social hierarchy established in the book, not to mention the constricting rules that the rich families had to adhere to.
As mentioned before, it did read a little like a society magazine at points; especially the listing of who's who (which I understand was meant to be satirical, but still, it was uncomfortably close to the real thing) and it never really went that deep, but that doesn't really matter. This is what I would definitely refer to as a holiday-read; fun, fast-paced and bursting with energy.