Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
Rating: 4 stars
This was high on my list of books to read in 2017, so I was thrilled when I finally got it!
This is a great summer read. It’s light and fluffy and perfect to read with a glass of something sparkling or a cup of tea and a great dessert (I did both). If you haven’t read Crazy Rich Asians, I recommend it first just so you have more background on the characters and story (in my opinion you can skip China Rich Girlfriend, but then I wasn’t a fan of it).
Rich People Problems begins with the Young family matriarch’s heart attack at 94. While she survives, her prognosis isn’t good. The family gathers to pay respects… and try to gain the upper hand for any last minute will changes. Her fortune is rumored to be huge, as is the property value on her massive house in Singapore, right next to the Botanic Gardens.
Even though Nick still hasn’t spoken to his grandmother since he married his wife Rachel, he decides (with some help from Rachel) to travel to Singapore to make amends while he has the chance. However he soon finds out he’s banned from his grandmother’s house because of a a scheming cousin. Also banned is Nick’s favorite cousin Astrid, who’s relationship with a separated-but-still-married former sweetheart (while her own divorce is far from finalized) has scandalized her family.
This is a THE perfect fun, quick, entertaining, and sharp beach read. I loved the the crazy family dynamics, and honestly some of the arguments could have happened in my own family (more of the disapproving of your boyfriend kind, not the who gets the $3 billion house kind).
Also, the descriptions of the social life at that income level, plus the clothes and food? Amazing. A perfect guilty indulgence (that’s also why I bought the super fancy dessert in the picture above)
While I loved this book, there were some issues. For one, the “good” characters (Nick, Astrid, Rachel, etc.) were too good. Kwan went out of his way to remind us of that. Astrid just spent millions on clothes and remodeling her house, but she would be happy with anything. Really?
He made it seem like anyone who cared about money was shallow (and I agree most were), but the ones that didn’t care about money were also those who were most secure with both their wealth and their status as family “favorites.” Maybe Nick and Astrid could afford to be ambivalent to the family’s money because they were always favored. I think that some of the characters attitudes toward money were tied to their family positions as second-best, and this is something Kwan could have spent more time on.
Also, it felt like the book was too long. After the will was read I mainly skimmed for the interesting parts. Same for most of Kitty’s chapters.
I highly recommend this to anyone looking for the perfect summer read, whether you’re sipping Mai Tais on the beach or making mimosas at home for a staycation.