When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside—but he’s not alone. It seems the entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe, ostensibly to care for their matriarch but truly to stake claim on the massive fortune that Su Yi controls. With each family member secretly fantasizing about getting the keys to Tyersall Park—a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore—the place becomes a hotbed of intrigue and Nicholas finds himself blocked from entering the premises. As relatives claw over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by his ex-wife—a woman hell bent on destroying Astrid’s reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to billionaire Jack Bing, finds a formidable opponent in his fashionista daughter, Colette. A sweeping novel that takes us from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a schoolyard kidnapping to a gold-leaf dancefloor spattered with blood, Kevin Kwan’s gloriously wicked new novel reveals the long-buried secrets and rich people problems of Asia’s most privileged families.
What is Rich People problems about?
The finale of the Crazy Rich Asians series, this book tackles the death of the Shang and Young families’ matriarch, Su Yi. For years, her vast estate at Tyersall Park and the rumors of her fortune have captivated her children and grandchildren, many of whom spend her last days vying for the keys to the kingdom. Despite attempts to keep the once presumed heir, Nick Young, away from his grandmother they do finally reconcile before her death. In the background, Eddie Cheng’s careful efforts to rise are buoyed when he believes Tyersall Park and its fortune are his. Su Yi drifts in and out of memories of the War, and Astrid struggles with the complicated divorce and remarriage situation she’s found herself in.
Genre: Contemporary Drama
Once again, Kwan pulls out all the stops to create a dramatic, multi-page soap opera.
Tropes: Historical Inheritance
Though everyone in the family is focused on the monetary value of Su Yi’s inheritance, it turns out there is far greater value to be had there. As Su Yi’s memories reveal bits and pieces of a young woman facing down the Japanese occupation of Singapore, she leaves her history squarely in the hands of her grandson, Nick, to learn just how rich and interesting her story was.
Plot: Everyone is Greedy and Wrong
Most all of Su Yi’s children and grandchildren are devastated by her loss, but even more upset by the revelations that come with Su Yi’s death. With schemes and plans set in place to secure the inheritance of Tyersall Park for each of the grandchildren, it becomes clear that Su Yi is not leaving behind the vast fortune she was thought to possess.
Finally I get more of the history that’s been dropped in here or there the past two books. And god was Su Yi’s story worth the wait! Along with the glimpses of her past that we get, Nick gets to do further research into his grandmother’s amazing life and the secrets behind Tyersall Park’s doors. Additionally, Nick’s story is a sad but powerful narrative of reconnecting with his family without the constraints of the wealth that was presumed to be his. The drama surrounding Su Yi’s will is delicious, but also full of irony for the many characters who let their greed color their last moments with her. The side plots of Astrid’s dramatic back and forth with Michael and Charlie, and Kitty’s constant competition with her stepdaughter, serve as delightfully funny diversions when the plot gets a bit too sad or dramatic.
Despite being one of the primary perspectives, Eddie Cheng is not a likable character. Nor have the previous two books really focused on him the way he shines in this installment of the series. Generally, he’s been given the occasional perspective chapter, but not a lot of change in his character. In this book, Eddie gets frequent chapters in the beginning, as he believes himself the new heir of Tyersall Park and begins to manipulate the family. I suppose the purpose of his story arc was to give some closure to him, but honestly his dramatics were a little too intense for me.
I think Kitty’s character went downhill in this book. She’s not given a lot of depth in the first book when she’s introduced, but throughout China Rich Girlfriend we get to see Kitty’s perspective as she struggles with the attitudes of those she wants acceptance from. Ultimately, she has a sweet side and genuinely wants friends, companions, and a better life for herself and her daughter. She may also want wealth and extravagance, but she’s not cold or heartless. In this book, her rivalry with her stepdaughter is dramatic but also robs Kitty of any of her character development from the second book. She really is just the villain from Snow White in this.
Though a significant amount of this book serves as a wrapping up, I think considerable time and energy was spent finishing up the stories that needed concluding. Shang Su Yi’s brilliant life was wonderful to read about, and I appreciated the dramatic way she reveals herself to Nick. I enjoyed Astrid’s story, for all its twists and turns, though I still find Michael too cartoonishly evil to really fit the rest of the story. I wish Kitty hadn’t been so obnoxiously ‘evil step-mother’ for so much of the story, and I also had trouble with Oliver’s chapters. Though I’m inclined to have sympathy for him, some of his manipulations to get ahead were ruthless and frustrating. I think for all the brilliant parts of this novel, there was something lacking as a finale for such a fantastic book series.