I picked this one because of my fascination with the…errmmm…crazy rich Asians making new homes in Canada, chasing up property values and adding a feng shui flavour to the little grey homes in our street.
It was moderately entertaining, and completely forgettable. It reads like a product or property catalogue, and Kwan defines sophistication and elegance by brand and dollar value. In that sense, his descriptions of the afore-mentioned crazy, rich Asians simply emphasize the image of the characters as a group, as shallow, materialistic, and prestige-hungry. Even with Mandarin and Malay phrases thrown in to add authenticity, the plot is as thin as diet soup and the explanation for the romantic entanglement is, frankly, condescending: the Chinese-born American mother turns out to be the heroine with the elevated set of morals. Trust Americans to save the day.
This was Kevin Kwan’s debut novel, and he fell squarely into most of the traps of spouting clichés, stereotypes and truisms.