Die old woman, die!
Ok, my opening line does seem a bit crass, but over-time the above had become the code word that my wife and I used to refer to the book ‘Rich People Problems’. E.g.
“Die old woman, die?” Uttered as a suggestion that we listen to the audiobook together over Sunday morning breakfast (which had become a bit of a tradition for us).
Or “Die old woman, die!” uttered when the story-line hit a particularly slow draggy spot- which seemed to be too often, as it took us over 6 months to finish the book.
But while getting through a book over a long period of time may suggest how non-riveting a novel may be- however in our opinion ‘Rich People Problems’ may actually be the best of the Crazy Rich trilogy!
The preface of the 2017 Kevin Kwan novel, the 3rd and last in the series is that the matriarch of the Young family Shang Su Yi is on her death bed. And after 4 years of estrangement after his marriage to Rachel, Nick returns back to Singapore to reconcile with his grandmother before she passes. And when he returns to Tyersall Park, he finds that all of his extended family are there, some out of familial duty, others out of real affection for Su Yi, while others are just wanting to get into her good books and her will, so they could be “set-up for life”. Hence the novel’s title- Rich People Problems.
Previously I had shat all over the second book in the series (China Rich Girlfriend), however the formula which made the first novel ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ a global sensation, that same winning formula was back in RPP. I.e. the spotlight place back on the Young family and the story once again unfolds on the island of Singapore. What we also liked about the book, was that all the previous characters are back again! Including all the characters from the second book- at the time when we were painfully slogging through China Rich Girlfriend and wondering why seemingly inconsequential characters like Kitty Bing-Pong (her friends call her Beer-Pong) and Colette Bing were getting so much air-time. However the reasoning for this, was so that the scene was set and they could play their vital roles in the conclusion of the 3rd story. Gold hey!? And we also liked the fact that all story-lines were tied off in a neat bow by the conclusion of the book, so at the end of the trilogy you can walk away feeling at peace that all was final (while keeping your fingers crossed that there won’t be another sequel to open all the healed wounds again).
What we didn’t like about the novel, was the fact that again there wasn’t a family tree included as an appendix to better explain who’s who, and what were their relations to everyone else (considering they had all those footnotes throughout the novel, couldn’t they include a family tree as well?). Which resulted in quite a few conversations between my wife and I throughout the past 6 months, trying to explain to each other our understanding of who was Alfred Shang and how many daughters did Su Yi actually have. And even after completing the first two books and part way through the third- then and only then did we realise that Astrid had other siblings, not only one nor two, but 3 other brothers!? What the? And the last thing which I didn’t like, was that some parts of the novel were uber cringing. I understand that the novel is satirical in nature, however some story-lines were just flogged a little bit too hard I think. Like Eddie Cheng’s carrying-ons, and the extreme shallowness of Kitty Beer-Pong. “Yeah, we get the idea, can we please move on?”
But all in all, Rich People Problems had worked to salvage our perception of the series and Kevin Kwan as a story-teller- so much so that we have already purchased his latest novel ‘Sex & Vanity’. A completely unrelated tale to the crazy rich Asians, but we hope just as fun!
To check out ‘Rich People Problems’, click HERE!