I am part of the generation that was raised on Sex and the City, and Gossip Girl, so I can appreciate a good romance story in a big city like the next basic b (all that’s missing is my PSL, Lululemon’s and UGGs). Sex and Vanity was a fun read, although it missed the mark in some areas, and that really detracted from my enjoyment.
What happened in a sentence:
A half-Chinese, half-European (descendant of the pilgrims, nonetheless) woman, who was born into riches most of us can’t even fathom, has even richer friends, and meets a guy on a greek island that she can’t stand… at first.
My favorite themes:
A mother’s love: This is a theme that appears in Kwan’s other books as well. The matriarch in each family is usually so much more complex than what appears on the surface. I love that Kwan digs deeper into the older women who run the show, and his stories give a multi-generational vibe.
My favorite quote:
“But I see you. I see the beauty inside you, and also your sadness, your fears, your flaws. I see exactly who you are and I love you for all those things, Lucie. I’ve loved you since the moment we met. I love your family, I love your mind, and I love your art. I want to be there to support your passions and dreams, whatever they are, and I want to know you more so I can love you more.”
I love a good declaration of love! *sigh*
My favorite things about the book:
I loved the whole Capri scene at the beginning of the book. One of my guilty pleasures is reading or imagining how the 1% live because my own life is so far from it. I mean my favorite Money Diaries are the really wealthy ones because, real talk here, I don’t want to read about someone who is super cautious with their money. In real life, I shouldn’t be spending money (it’s especially scarce these days), and that’s no fun. Needless to say, the exorbitant Capri wedding, the couture talk, the dreamy mansion apartments, is a nice fantasy!
I also loved a cameo of one of the characters from CRA. It was brief but VERY enjoyable!
My least favorite thing about the book:
A lot of the characters were very bleh to me. Lucie could have been given some more inner dialogue or moments of reflection or raw emotion or SOMETHING to be more dynamic. But her emotion did not strike at my heartstrings at all, and let me tell you, I cry at everything.
My wine pairing:
Sparkling Rosé – Marina Alta Espumante Rosado. For a fun and carefree time, this is the tastiest rosé! It goes down just as easy as this book is to read!
5/10: While I enjoyed reading the book, it did nothing more to me than a shallow, easy, beach read. Was it fun? Yes. Was it trying to be something more? I think so. I feel that Kwan was trying to marry Sex and the City with relevant issues such as racism, but that attempt fell flat. The characters and their ‘strife’ did not feel believable, and the romantic scenes weren’t even that steamy (frowny face). He had a chance to make a more obvious commentary on racism, especially given that his protagonist was a half-Chinese woman in a very snobby and racist white family, but her “encounters with racism” felt a little shallow. I loved the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy but felt that this book didn’t hit the mark for me.