Wednesday, 19 August 2020

[GIFTED] Book Review: Sex and Vanity - Kevin Kwan

[GIFTED] Post contains gifted products from Penguin, however all views and opinions are my own.

 Some of you may know, because I honestly feel like I talked about it on my twitter for about four weeks after I went to see it, that I thought Crazy Rich Asians was such an incredible, well done film. The story, though seemingly from the outside an age old Cinderella story, brings a new twist to something we might have loved as children. So, when I was sent Sex and Vanity to review by the same author who wrote the book the film I love so much was based on, I was more than excited. However, due to lockdown, extra work shifts and just general life fatigue, I only got down to reading it this week; and the very modern take on 'A Room With a View' certainly didn't disappoint.

Sex and Vanity is a beautiful book, set across three parts. Part one centres around a high society wedding in Capri, part two around Lucie (the main protagonist, who is Chinese American) and her life since the wedding, and part three? Well, that bit is a pleasant surprise for all those reading. Like it's best-selling predecessor, alongside the culture difference cleverly explained within the book, it feels like all along you're being let inside of a society that you'd never normally be rich enough to be a part of; and even reading about the events and getting caught up in them - it feels special. You come to love, hate and spite characters alongside Lucie, and you see how places within this elite society are sought after, hard to come by, and so easily lost. As Lucie worries that she may not fit in (or indeed may not want to if it means giving up what she truly wants), you begin to realise just how easily the life that all of these people have been accustomed to can so easily crumble.

Not only is the book captivating, funny and genuinely easy to get drawn into, it is so wittily added to by author footnotes explaining traditions you might not be aware of, details of celebrities that Western readers may not be quite as familiar with or artists that people may not have heard of before, and even just genuinely humorous additions to the story that aren't needed but are much appreciated. What could so easily have become 'just' a romance novel (though I have to say, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that in my eyes) is so richly added to by the genuine warmth and humour in both the characters and the author himself.

The book mainly centres around Lucie Churchill and her obsessive dislike of another guest of the lavish wedding we see in Capri, George Zao. It seems George is everything Lucie doesn't like about the affluent guests invited, and although she's happy to never see him again, it seems that that might not quite be on the cards. However, when Lucie leaves Capri, and the room with a view of the sea forced upon her by him and his mother, surely she'll leave George for good? The story, cleverly filled with emails, Lucie's thoughts and more lavish events that you could ever dream of will have you captivated until the very last word.

I loved the book from start to end, and I'm now devastated to know that I didn't read Crazy Rich Asians before seeing the film, but there's plenty more books from Kevin Kwan that I'll definitely be picking up to read in the next few weeks.

If you've read any, please do let me know your thoughts! 

Sammy xo.

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