Kevin Kwan

China Rich Girlfriend

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China Rich Girlfriend Summary

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The second book in a trilogy, Singaporean author Kevin Kwan’s satirical romance novel China Rich Girlfriend (2015) is preceded by Crazy Rich Asians, which was also adapted into a 2018 film. The story begins two years after the prequel, following a cast of characters who scramble to hold their tenuous relationships and reputations together in elite Chinese and Chinese-American social circles, which are notorious for being cutthroat and political. Rather than move toward a single, peaceful resolution, the novel focuses on the endlessly complex, game-like, real-time decisions and consequences that define the characters’ lives. The novel, along with its prequel and sequel, has been praised for subverting Asian stereotypes using humor.

The novel begins in 2013. Eddie meets with Bao Shaoyen, a wealthy client at the bank where he works. Bao is waiting to learn the condition of her son, who was just in a car accident after driving recklessly. Because one passenger has died and another, Rachel, is paralyzed, Bao convinces Eddie to blackmail Eleanor Young into covering up the accident. Meanwhile, Eleanor’s son, Nick Young, prepares to marry his fiancée, Rachel Chu. He invites his cousin, Astrid Teo. Astrid and her husband, Michael, have recently become extremely wealthy thanks to a shadow investment made by Charlie Wu and have since become too arrogant to tolerate. Charlie and Astrid strike up a friendship. In another plot, the soap actor Kitty Pong, now the wife of a Singaporean multimillionaire, fumbles an attempt to work her way into the elite social circles. She hires a woman from an elite family, Corinna Ko-Tung, to advise her.

Eleanor crashes Rachel and Nick’s wedding, which she had previously opposed, and tells Rachel that she has found her long-lost father. Nick is suspicious of Eleanor’s motives, but Eleanor insists that she is trying to protect the betrothed couple from the manipulation of Eleanor’s mother and the family matriarch, Su Yi. She relates that Su Yi had once conspired to ruin her own marriage, because it was out of love rather than a desire to increase her status. Meanwhile, Bao Shaoyen tries to keep Rachel from her father, Bao Gaoling.

Rachel, Nick, their friend Carlton, and Carlton’s wealthy friend Colette Bing go on vacation to Paris. There, Colette rebuffs the proposal of her boyfriend, Richie Yang, who proceeds to angrily get into a car race. Rachel starts to regret leaving her father behind in America after only meeting him briefly. Carlton reveals to Rachel that Bao Shaoyen is keeping her from entering the family because it could result in Rachel receiving Carlton’s inheritance instead of Carlton.

The plot thickens when Rachel is admitted to the hospital with a mysterious illness. A bouquet of flowers arrives with a letter warning Nick and Rachel’s friend, Peik Lin, that she has been poisoned. The toxicology report indicates the use of a rare poison, causing Carlton to suspect that his parent’s pharmaceutical business might have played a part. He confronts Bao Shaoyen, but she denies doing anything. To enact revenge against her, Carlton tells his father about her role covering up the car accident. After hearing about Rachel’s poisoning, Bao Gaoling, ashamed of the way he treated her, invites her into his family.

The police investigation uncovers evidence that Colette’s assistant, Roxanne, poisoned Rachel to help ensure that Colette got the maximum inheritance. Though Colette was unaware of this, Carlton breaks up with her. Rachel and Colette also break off their friendship; their argument is recorded and goes viral. Colette also learns that her father, Jack, has been secretly dating Kitty. Astrid reconnects with her ex-fiancé, Charlie Wu, as she grows apart from her husband, Michael. Michael grows suspicious that Astrid’s father is trying to sabotage his career. Michael threatens Astrid, who escapes with her son. Charlie Wu divorces his wife and starts a relationship with Astrid.

At the end of the novel, Kitty’s husband, Bernard Tai, disappears with their daughter. She and her assistant find them in a home in Los Angeles. Kitty takes back her daughter and escapes via a private plane, thanks to her new lover, Jack Bing. Kitty and her daughter arrive at their lavish mansion in Singapore, enjoying the momentary peace.