Decadent and Funny
Upon stepping on a flight for a summer-long vacation in Asia, the lavish business class accommodation should have been her first clue. Little by little and through the glaringly obvious opulence of their living arrangements in Singapore, Rachel finds out that she didn’t know her boyfriend at all. It was Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and Pride and Prejudice set in Singapore.
Here’s how this book started: a family of Oriental descent couldn’t check in to their hotel because the concierge wouldn’t honour their reservation. No big, yeah? But the hotel is no ordinary hotel. It’s in London, where big shots and big money usually stay at. The concierge turned up his nose to the family because some Lady or Duchess was staying in the same floor of the penthouse the family have booked. The Lady wouldn’t like it, he surmised. Drenched, cold and tired from the long flight, the matron of the family put in a call at home to relay their unfortunate circumstance. Her husband in turn, learned of the injustice his family had suffered under the hands of the concierge. The next logical step would’ve been to get them booked somewhere else – but nooooo. The man goes and buys the hotel right there and then, gets the soon-to-be former owner out of bed to formally welcome his family and then fire the concierge on the spot. I know right?
The story is told through numerous points of view, which, to some may be confusing. But this actually works splendidly. Each family tells their stories, their legacies, and yes, their crazies. Though the majority of the novel revolved around Rachel and Nicholas, I was absolutely taken by Astrid’s and Michael’s failing marriage. Astrid comes from the richest pedigree, so everyone was surprised when she marries a former military man from a ‘regular’ family. Their story, in my opinion, is the epitome of what the book is about. Though her family accepted Michael, the pressure of living with a rich heiress soon got to him. The thought that no matter how much money he made as a self-made IT business partner, he could never amount to anything of worth. I didn’t even try to put myself in his shoes, I could never understand what he did. In the end, I wished their story continued on. And trust me, you would want it to continue as well.
Kevin Kwan opens a door to a side of the rich that I never knew existed. Gucci? Louis Vuitton? Forget them. These people will never be caught dead wearing them. Kwan effortlessly takes his readers from the high brow Manhattan to the sensual, extravagant Singapore. From the rich, spicy cuisines, magnificent mansions, luxury cars and picturesque islands. But he also showed the ugly undertones of being born below the wrung of the echelon. Prejudice against new money, American immigrants who made names for themselves in the States and those who was born outside of the acceptable breeding.
If there’s a book that you must absolutely read this summer, make sure this makes your list.
My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars