Book Review – Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

You may have heard of Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwans first book that’s loyal to it’s title. After that came China rich girlfriend and Rich people problems to complete the trilogy. Sex and Vanity is a stand alone book that is an homage to “A room with a view” with a crazy rich Asian twist. But it’s hardly as loyal to it’s title as the first book. First of all, there’s no sex (unless you count interrupted foreplay) but vanity there is, in spades. It could be called vanity and vanity and it would not be exaggerating.

Every character is introduced with name and school background from kindergarten. Just to show how accomplished they are in education. Further they name drop designers, real estate, art, jewelry, acquaintances (one of them has a picture with princess Diana) and just about anything you could possibly brag about. One major bragging right of the protagonist is her heritage being a Churchill. (Her ancestors came over on the mayflower!)

I will admit that I know of this caste and that I have ventured into it as a guest so I know this world is very real and the stereotypes very true in certain cases. Reading about it is a different story though. I don’t know why, but I enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians more than Sex and vanity. It just became too much name dropping and designer spotting than love story. Even the motives of the protagonist were too drowned in vanity to shine through. I didn’t find it believable. And knowing how crazy that world could be, not finding it believable says something. The motivation just wasn’t there. It makes me wonder if the author lacks this insight into how a woman developed love and feelings. I doubt that a guy going down on me once can have me going nuts 5 years later. I’ve certainly never met a guy that good, but maybe that’s just me.

In the end, I liked the idea of this book much better than the execution. But if this one is made into a movie too, I think it will be absolutely stunning to watch! Reading it has you dreaming of Italy and the gorgeous landscape and I can imagine that a visual of what is described would be a feast for the eyes. All I would want would be more motivation behind the love part of the story (and let’s be honest, more sex!). One thing is for certain is that I have added a few places to my dream travel destinations!