China Rich Girlfriend — “Crazy Rich Asians” Series


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Book Review

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan is the second book in the “Crazy Rich Asians” series. Rachel survived her fiancé Nick’s crazy rich family, but now her own family history complicates their romance.

Plot Summary

Rachel Chu and Nick Young are preparing for their California wedding. The journey to the altar hasn’t been an easy one, since Rachel is a commoner and Nick comes from the unfathomably rich upper-crust elite of Singaporean society. Nick’s mother, Eleanor Young, tried to sabotage their relationship, which led to Nick being estranged from most of his family.

Eleanor is heartbroken to learn that she is not invited to her only son’s wedding, but she still has a few tricks up her sleeve. When she notices that the son of a billionaire Chinese politician looks identical to Rachel Chu, she hires a private investigator and discovers that Rachel’s real father is Bao Gaoliang. Eleanor crashes her son’s wedding rehearsal by landing her helicopter at the wedding site, but Rachel forgives the intrusion since Eleanor also introduces her to her true father, for whom she’s been searching for years.

Meanwhile, Nick’s favorite cousin, Astrid Leong, is having difficulties. Her husband, Michael, is running a successful business, but their relationship is unsatisfying and plagued with arguments over child discipline. She’s also missing time with her close friend and former fiancé, Charlie Wu. Her email and text correspondence with Charlie grow increasingly playful and nostalgic over time.

Rachel and Nick’s wedding goes off without a single problem, and Gaoliang is even able to attend. Nick accepts Gaoliang’s offer for the new couple to honeymoon in Shanghai and meet Rachel’s side of the family for the first time. Unfortunately, Gaoliang’s wife, Bao Shaoyen, hates the idea of her husband’s illegitimate daughter visiting. She fears that Rachel’s existence might become a scandal that destroys her husband’s chances of becoming vice premier.

Rachel’s sweet but irresponsible younger brother, Carlton, and his friend, the fabulous socialite Collette Bing, welcome Rachel and Nick to Shanghai and take them to a wide variety of social activities, but Gaoliang is notably absent from all events. Rachel begins to suspect that her father and stepmother are not truly busy, but just avoiding her.

Astrid and Michael’s marriage further breaks down. He puts a great deal of pressure on her to conform to his ideal of a perfect corporate spouse. She shares her relationship woes with Charlie, who is deeply sympathetic since he’s still in love with Astrid and since his own marriage has collapsed.

Colette, Carlton, Nick and Rachel fly to Paris via the Bings’ private jet so Colette can look at the latest runway fashions. One of Colette’s suitors, Richie Yang, also comes to Paris and stages an elaborate party in Colette’s honor, as a pretense for proposing to her. Colette is in love with Carlton and refuses Richie’s offer.

Richie and Carlton get into a fistfight and almost engage in a dangerous high-speed drag race, but Rachel convinces Carlton not to go through with it. Carlton attempts to win some goodwill from his mother, Shaoyen, by telling her that Rachel was the one who saved his reputation and possibly his life. Shaoyen remains convinced that Rachel is a threat to her family’s future.

Rachel collapses while on a spa retreat and is rushed to a hospital. Nick discovers a note written to Rachel saying that she has been poisoned and warning her not to enter Mainland China ever again. Carlton realizes that Shaoyen must have poisoned Rachel, and when he confronts her in front of Gaoliang, he also reveals that his mother covered up the death of a girl who was critically injured in a car crash in which Carlton was the driver.

An investigation reveals that Rachel was not poisoned by Shaoyen but by Colette Bing’s assistant, Roxanne, in a bizarre attempt to protect Carlton’s fortune and thereby protect Colette’s happiness. Rachel is invited to Gaoliang’s home and welcomed by Shaoyen, who finally accepts her. Rachel and Nick establish a fresh, satisfying relationship with her newfound family.

After the police investigation of her assistant, Colette reveals her true nature when she curses Rachel for not helping her win Carlton’s love. The two women get into a heated public argument, and this confrontation leads to Carlton and Colette ending their friendship permanently.

Astrid learns that Charlie bought Michael’s first company for an exorbitant amount of money in order to skyrocket Michael to success so that Astrid would be happy. Michael believes that Astrid is cheating on him with Charlie and screams at her for her supposed infidelities. When he threatens violence, Astrid realizes that she needs to take her son and leave Michael. She and Charlie form a new, happy couple.

Christian Beliefs

Carol Tai makes references to attending church. Corinna Ko-Tung tells Kitty that she must become a regular attendee at a specific church in order to be accepted by society, even if she’s not a Christian. They attend a service together, and Kitty is moved by the warm way the parishioners treat each other.

Other Belief Systems

A ceremonial dagger that Eleanor picks up is said to contain a demon that, if unleased, will bring misfortune on the opener’s eldest child.

Authority Roles

Eleanor Young insists that she knows what is best for her son Nick, but her views conflict with his own desire to marry the woman he loves. Nick’s father, Philip, supports him but doesn’t counteract his wife’s overbearing tendencies to intrude in Nick’s life.

Bao Shaoyen spoils her adult son Carlton. They buy sports cars and entire apartment buildings on his whim. Nothing Carlton wants is denied him.

Astrid is a more loving, permissive parent, but her husband, Michael, has an authoritarian approach to discipline, locking his 5-year-old son in the closet for hours in response to minor infractions. He also uses his son as a means to gain fame for himself, arranging for a magazine photoshoot naming him Father of the Year.

Colette has a stronger personality than her father, Jack, and screams at him for his boorish table manners. He, in turn, tries to manipulate her into marrying the suitor he prefers for her.

Profanity & Violence

Profanity includes a–, h—, d—n, s—, b—ch, b—tard, the f-word, p—y and d—k.

Carlton confronts Shaoyen about covering up the death of a girl who was critically injured in a car crash in which Carlton was the driver. Rachel is poisoned by Colette Bing’s assistant, Roxanne, in a bizarre attempt to protect Carlton’s fortune and thereby protect Colette’s happiness.

Sexual Content

Frequent references are made to the mistresses of wealthy married men. Kitty Pong was a porn star before she was a soap opera star, a fact that taints her reputation. Isabel Wu was known for her wild affairs, both before and after marrying Charlie. Colette and Carlton strip and engage in sexual foreplay. Astrid ends up with Charlie after leaving her husband.

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