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Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.
When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick's formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should--and should not--marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider's look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.
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Kevin Kwan was born and raised in Singapore. He currently lives in Manhattan. Crazy Rich Asians is his first novel.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
As Peik Lin’s car approached the porte cochere of Tyersall Park, Nicholas Young bounded down the front steps. “I was worried you’d gotten lost,” he said, opening the car door.
“We did get a bit lost, actually,” Rachel replied.
“For some strange reason, your grandmother’s house didn’t show up on my GPS,” said Peik Lin, who prided herself on knowing every street in Singapore.
Rachel got out of the car and stared up at the majestic facade before her. “Am I really late?”
“No, it’s OK,” Nick said. “Peik Lin—thanks so much for giving Rachel a lift.”
“Of course,” Peik Lin murmured, rather stunned by her surroundings. She paused, thinking Nick might invite her in for a drink, but no invitation seemed forthcoming. Finally she said as nonchalantly as possible, “This is quite a place—is it your grandmother’s?”
“Yes,” Nick replied.
“Has she lived here a long time?” Peik Lin asked, craning to get a better look.
“Since she was a young girl.”
What Peik Lin really wanted to ask was, Who on earth is your grandmother? “Well, you two have a great time,” she said instead, winking at Rachel and mouthing Call me later. Rachel gave her friend a quick smile.
Nick turned to Rachel, looking a little sheepish. “I hope it’s OK . . . but it’s not just the family. My grandmother decided to have a small party at the last minute because her tan hua flowers are going to bloom tonight.”
“She’s throwing a party because some flowers are in bloom?” Rachel asked.
“Well, these are very rare. They bloom only about once every decade, and only at night. The whole thing lasts just a few hours. It’s quite something.”
“Sounds cool, but now I’m feeling really underdressed,” Rachel said, eyeing the fleet of limousines lining the driveway. She was wearing a sleeveless, chocolate-colored linen dress, a pair of low-heeled sandals, and the only expensive piece of jewelry she owned—Mikimoto pearl studs that her mother had given her when she got her doctorate.
“Not at all—you look absolutely perfect,” Nick replied.
As they entered the house, Rachel was transfixed for a few moments by the intricate black, blue, and coral mosaic tile pattern on the floor of what appeared to be a large foyer. Then, to her amazement, a tall, spindly Indian man standing next to a table clustered with pots of enormous white-and-purple phalaenopsis orchids bowed ceremoniously to her.
“Everyone’s upstairs in the living room,” Nick said, leading Rachel toward a carved-stone staircase. She saw something out of the corner of her eye and let out a quick gasp. By the side of the staircase lurked a huge tiger, mouth open in a ferocious growl.
“It looks so real!” Rachel said.
“It was real,” Nick said. “It’s a native Singaporean tiger. They used to roam this area. My great-grandfather shot it when it ran into the house and hid under the billiard table, or so the story goes.”
“Poor guy,” Rachel said.
“It used to scare the hell out of me when I was little. I never dared go near the foyer at night,” Nick said.
“You grew up here?” Rachel asked in surprise.
“Yes, until I was about seven.”
“You never told me you lived in a palace.”
“This isn’t a palace. It’s just a big house.”
“Nick, where I come from, this is a palace,” Rachel said, gazing up at the cast-iron-and-glass cupola soaring above them. The murmur of party chatter and piano keys wafted down. As they entered the drawing room, Rachel felt momentarily giddy, as if she had been transported back in time to the grand lounge of a twenties ocean liner, en route from Venice to Istanbul, perhaps.
The “living room,” as Nick so modestly called it, was a gallery that ran along the entire northern end of the house, with Art Deco divans, wicker club chairs, and ottomans casually grouped into intimate seating areas. A row of tall plantation doors opened onto a veranda, inviting a view of verdant parklands and the scent of night-blooming jasmine into the room. At the far end of the room a young man in a tuxedo played on a Bösendorfer grand piano. Rachel longed to study every exquisite detail: the exotic potted palms in massive Qianlong dragon jardinieres, the lacquered teak surfaces, the silver-and-lapis-lazuli-filigreed walls. The glamorous guests, she couldn’t help noticing, appeared completely at ease lounging on the shantung silk ottomans while a retinue of white-gloved servants circulated with trays of cocktails.
“Here comes my cousin Astrid’s mother,” Nick muttered. A stately- looking lady approached them, wagging a finger at Nick.
“Nicky, you naughty boy, why didn’t you tell us you were back?” The woman spoke in a clipped English accent straight out of a Merchant Ivory film. Rachel couldn’t help but notice how her tightly permed black hair fittingly resembled the Queen of England’s.
“So sorry, I thought you and Uncle Harry would be in London at this time of the year. Dai gu cheh, this is my girlfriend, Rachel Chu. Rachel, this is my auntie Felicity Leong.”
Felicity nodded at Rachel, boldly scanning her up and down.
“So nice to meet you,” Rachel said, unsettled by her hawklike gaze.
“Is Astrid here yet?” Nick asked.
“Aiyah, you know that girl is always late!” At that moment, his aunt noticed an elderly Indian woman in a gold-and-peacock-blue sari being helped up the stairs. “Dear Mrs. Singh, when did you get back from Udaipur?” she screeched, pouncing on the woman as Nick guided Rachel out of the way.
“Who is that lady?” Rachel asked.
“That’s Mrs. Singh, a family friend who used to live down the street. She’s the daughter of a maharaja and was great friends with Nehru. I’ll introduce you later, when my aunt isn’t breathing down our necks.”
“Her sari is absolutely stunning,” Rachel remarked, gazing at the elaborate gold stitching.
“I hear she flies all her saris back to New Delhi to be specially cleaned,” Nick said as he tried to escort Rachel toward the bar, unwittingly steering her into the path of a very posh-looking middle-aged couple. The man had a pompadour of Brylcreemed black hair while his wife wore a classic gold-buttoned red-and-white Chanel suit.
“Uncle Dickie, Auntie Nancy, meet my girlfriend, Rachel Chu,” Nick said. “Rachel, this is my uncle and his wife, from the T’sien side of the family.”
“Ah, Rachel, I’ve met your grandfather in Taipei . . . Chu Yang Chung, isn’t it?” Uncle Dickie asked.
“Er . . . actually, no. My family isn’t from Taipei,” Rachel stammered.
“Oh. Where are they from, then?”
“Guangdong originally, and nowadays California.”
Uncle Dickie looked a bit taken aback, while his well-coiffed wife grasped his arm tightly and continued. “Oh, we know California very well. Northern California, actually.”
“Yes, that’s where I’m from,” Rachel replied politely.
“Ah, well then, you must know the Gettys? Ann is a great friend of mine,” Nancy effused.
“Um, are you referring to the Getty Oil family?”
“Is there any other?” Nancy asked.
“Rachel’s from Cupertino, not San Francisco, Auntie Nancy. And that’s why I need to introduce her to Francis Leong over there, who I hear is going to Stanford this fall,” Nick cut in, quickly moving Rachel along. The next half hour was a blur of nonstop greetings, as Rachel was introduced to aunties and uncles and cousins, the distinguished though diminutive Thai ambassador, and the sultan of some unpronounceable Malay state, along with his two wives in bejeweled head scarves.
One woman seemed to command the attention of the room. She was very slim and aristocratic-looking with snow-white hair and ramrod-straight posture, dressed in a long white silk cheongsam. Most of the guests orbited around her, paying tribute, and when she at last came toward them, Rachel noticed Nick’s resemblance to her. Rachel decided to greet her in Mandarin, but before Nick could make proper introductions, she bowed her head nervously and said, “It is such a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for inviting me to your beautiful home.”
The woman looked at her quizzically and replied slowly in Mandarin, “It is a pleasure to meet you, too, but you are mistaken; this is not my house.”
“Rachel, this is my great-aunt Rosemary,” Nick explained hurriedly.
“And you’ll have to forgive me, my Mandarin is really quite rusty,” Great-Aunt Rosemary added in a Vanessa Redgrave English.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Rachel said, her cheeks flushing bright red. She could feel all eyes in the room upon her, amused by her faux pas.
“No need to apologize.” Great-Aunt Rosemary smiled graciously. “Nick has told me quite a bit about you, and I was so looking forward to meeting you.”
Nick put his arm around Rachel and said, “Here, come meet my grandmother.” They walked across the room, and on the sofa closest to the veranda sat an older woman dressed simply in a rose-colored silk blouse and tailored cream trousers, her steel-gray hair held in place by an ivory headband. Standing behind her were two ladies in immaculate matching gowns of iridescent silk.
Nick addressed his grandmother in Cantonese. “Ah ma, I’d like you to meet my friend Rachel Chu, from America.”
“So nice to meet you!” Rachel blurted, forgetting her Mandarin.
Nick’s grandmother peered up at Rachel. “Thank you for coming,” she replied haltingly, in English, before turning to resume her conversation with a woman at her side. The two ladies swathed in silk stared inscrutably at Rachel.
“Let’s get some punch,” Nick said, directing Rachel toward a table dominated by a huge Venetian glass punch bowl.
“That had to be the most awkward moment of my life,” Rachel whispered.
“Nonsense. She was just in the middle of another conversation,” Nick said.
“Who were those two elegant women in matching silk dresses standing like statues behind her?” Rachel asked.
“Her lady’s maids. They never leave her side. They’re from Thailand and were trained to serve in the royal court.”
“Is this a common thing in Singapore? Importing royal maids from Thailand?” Rachel asked incredulously.
“I don’t believe so. This service was a special lifetime gift to my grandmother.”
“A gift? From whom?”
“The King of Thailand.”
“Oh,” Rachel said. She took the glass of punch from Nick and noticed that the fine etching on the Venetian glassware perfectly matched the intricate fretwork pattern on the ceiling. She leaned against the back of a sofa for support.There was so much for her to take in. Who knew that Nick’s family would turn out to be so grand? And why hadn’t he prepared her better?
Rachel felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned around to see Nick’s cousin, Astrid Leong, holding a sleepy toddler. “Astrid!” she cried, delighted to see a friendly face. Astrid was wearing the chicest outfit Rachel had ever seen—an embroidered Alexis Mabille white peasant blouse, pearl-gray Lanvin cigarette pants, and a fantastical pair of bejeweled earrings, very Millicent Rogers. So this was Astrid in her natural habitat.
“Hello, hello!” Astrid said cheerily. “Cassian, say hi to Auntie Rachel.” The child stared at Rachel, then buried his head into his mother’s shoulder. “So,” she continued, “how are you finding Singapore so far? Having a good time?”
“A great time! Although tonight’s been a bit . . . overwhelming.”
“I can only imagine,” Astrid said with a knowing glint in her eye.
A melodious peal rang out. An elderly woman in a white cheongsam top and black silk trousers was playing a small silver xylophone by the stairs.
“Ah, the dinner gong,” Astrid said. “Come, let’s eat.”
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Book Description Random House Audio 2013-06-11, 2013. Audio CD. Condition: Very Good. Item is in very good condition. If supplemental codes/CDs for textbooks are required please contact us prior to purchasing as they may be missing. Seller Inventory # DS-0804127646-2
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Book Description Random House Audio 2013-06-11, 2013. Audio CD. Condition: Good. Unabridged. 0804127646. Seller Inventory # 711548