FICTION

Sex and Vanity

Doubleday. Jul. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780385546270. $26.95. F
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Crazy Rich Asians creator Kwan returns with a novel inspired by E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View, in which 19-year-old Lucie Churchill, daughter of a Chinese American mother and blue-blood New York father, travels to Capri for a wedding. The eye-poppingly opulent celebration lasts for days. Things heat up when Lucie meets George Zao and his ever-present mother, who hilariously begins many of her sentences with “hiyah.” Lucie tries to ignore her attraction to George, but she keeps bumping into him, and they have a romance, which ends when members of the wedding party return home. Several years later, Lucie plans to marry WASPy, wealthy fiancé Cecil, who is mostly fixated on his Instagram likes, and finds her family irritating and boring. Kwan’s usual delightful humor appears in his trademark footnotes, particularly those proclaiming everyone’s pedigree. Touches such as Milk Duds served at a Hollywood movie screening are amusing as well. The situation changes abruptly when the Zaos move to New York and Lucie and George keep running into each other. As Lucie learns a few truths, she makes some important decisions.
VERDICT This is an enjoyable book, especially for those who like reading about the lives of the privileged and for fans of the author. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/20.]

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