I’ve been enjoying the trilogy by Kevin Kwan that starts with the book Crazy Rich Asians. I wanted to read them before seeing the new movie, and I’ve had a lot of fun doing so. They aren’t great literature. They aren’t full of redeeming philosophies. But they are entertaining. Reading them is a guilty pleasure!
What has intrigued me most—besides the lavish descriptions of houses, cars, meals, vacations, and designer clothing—is the book list in the second book, China Rich Girlfriend. In that novel, a woman named Kitty Pong, known for being a soap opera star who has married her way into wealth, is trying to rehabilitate her reputation. She wants to be accepted by high society in Singapore and Hong Kong, but the old families will not accept her. She hires a life coach to help her, and she is given a list of books to read in order to make her more acceptable, literary, and educated.
Here’s the list.
Snobs by Julian Fellowes
The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee
People Like Us by Dominick Dunne
The Power of Style by Annette Tapert and Diana Edkins
Pride and Avarice by Nicholas Coleridge
The Soong Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
D. V. by Diana Vreeland
A Princess Remembers: The Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur by Gayatri Devi
The complete works of Jane Austen, starting with Pride and Prejudice (X)
The following Edith Wharton novels in order:
The Custom of the Country
The Age of Innocence (X)
The House of Mirth (X)
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (X)
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (X)
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Anthony Trollope’s Palliser series, starting with Can You Forgive Her?
I felt a bit like I haven’t done my own literary and style homework according to the Asian upper class, given that I’ve only read 5 of these! (I put an X next to the ones that I’ve read.)
Have you read any of these? Do you agree with this list?
I may have to read the rest of them to see if I can civilize myself!