I think the thing I found most infuriating about this book was how it was taken as a matter of course that everyone would be so incredibly disrespectful of their parents. I mean, I’m not terribly close to my own parents and have gone my quietly rebellious way from what they had in mind for me, but I’ve never been as horrifyingly rude and confrontational as over half the “kids” (really 20- to 30-somethings) in China Rich Girlfriend. Sure, parents can be overbearing and unreasonable, but that doesn’t justify any of the spoiled brat behavior on display in this novel. And, of course, the insufferable Rachel and Nick go along with any and all of it so long as it doesn’t directly impact their own lives. Oh, because of course, Rachel and Nick are just as bad.
God, I hate those two. Nick was just boring in Crazy Rich Asians, but in this second book of the series, he’s become obnoxious, too. And it kills me how everyone pretends that Nick wasn’t aware of how “badly” Rachel was being treated in Singapore: barring the dead fish incident (and even then, Sophie was at hand to help!) she was treated pretty damn nicely till Nick announced that he wanted to marry her (and then he was around and reacting when his mom and grandma were unkind, so wtf. And Francesca’s announcement? Was just Rachel being a fucking baby.) Just because people weren’t falling all over themselves to be friendly to the American doesn’t mean they were cruel to her.
She does get a little better in this book but ugh, I was really rooting for her to exit the series permanently. Fortunately, we spend a good chunk of the novel with the wonderful Astrid and the terrific duo of Kitty and Corinna. It’s quite impressive how Kevin Kwan “rehabilitates” Kitty from the opportunist of CRA to the woman trying hard to fit in here in CRG (tho never fear, Kitty doesn’t lose any of her scheming pluck.) I freaking loved her partnership with Corinna, especially in the scene where they were discussing what to do about Gisele. And oh my darling Astrid and Charlie! I love/ship them SO HARD. I knew at the end of CRA that Astrid ought to leave Michael exactly because of what happens here in CRG: men who tie up their ego in money will never be healthy and happy no matter how much or little money they have.
Anyway, I felt this book wasn’t quite as strong as CRA due mostly to less Eleanor, and I think this book also drew less societal parallels and spent more time on gossipy set pieces. It was also irritating that people in the Rachel-Nick orbit were considered good or bad only in relation to that dreary duo. Honestly, Carlton and Colette are just as bad as each other, but Carlton gets a pass because he’s nicer to Rachel than Colette is? What the fucking ever.
I’m sure Book 3 will have more Astrid and Kitty (yay!) but I’m hoping for more Peik Lin than just the cameo she had in this book. If Rachel and Nick would just kindly fuck off in the last book, it would be perfect, tho I’m not holding my breath. Kudos to Mr Kwan for making me feel so personally invested in these people, even as I wish he were capable of writing as well as he aspires to. I know he means for Rachel to be sympathetic, but his writing of her is so intensely wooden that it’s hard to do anything but suppress a groan and an eye roll during her scenes. She’s not funny or charming or nice or anything but the most boringly middle-class Asian person I’ve read of in recent memory, and a terrible construct to hang a book series off of.