Cover Image: Sex and Vanity

Sex and Vanity

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I so wanted to love this one but sadly it missed the mark for me it was too similar to crazy rich Asians.

Lucie was a very hard character to like & sadly I grew to loathe her.
Was this review helpful?
If you get a million dollars, what's the first thing you'll spend it on?

"When we align with the truth of who we are, all things are possible."

I never get what the huge buzz about multi-millionaires and their family inheritance is about. A capitalism-driven world? Definitely. Why is it that their lives sound like something out of a junk novel? If anyone changes my mind about how their lives sound way better than ours, I'll give you my entire book collection.

'Sex and Vanity' is the story of spoilt brats quabbling about how life's too short to be living and why it's very important to 'maintain' your reputation, even though none of it is yours; rather it's your family's. Does it sound like every Asian family's story? Yes.

While reading this book was very triggering, I actually had some fun with it. As many of you might know, I love drama, so much to a point that drama comes in search of me. So, yes, this book has a lot of drama and is enough to keep you entertained if you're trying to read a book to intentionally ignore creeps in public transport.

Read this if you love watching 'Keeping up with the Kardashians'. If you don't, well I guess you might be saved from the burden of reading it.
Was this review helpful?
As a fan of Crazy Rich Asians, I knew I needed to read Kevin Kwan's new book as soon as possible, seen as I loved his debut series so much. 

Sex and Vanity is set in two time periods. We first find ourselves in Capri, following Lucie Churchill's trip for a friend's wedding that's punctuated by a very heated encounter with George Zao. And then it's five years later, and Lucie's fancy New York life is again turned upside down by him. It sounds like everything I love. I'm sad to say, however, that I was thoroughly disappointed. 

I actually really enjoyed the bits in Capri. The lavishness of the wedding, the description of the island, and the writing were all very entertaining. The characters felt a bit annoying but they still had room to grow. But by the end of the book, most of them hadn't.

I felt very conflicted with Lucie as a character. There were moments when she was brilliant and we could see that her pretentiousness was just a façade she'd been putting up all her life, due to her blue-blooded American family. But ultimately, I still feel like she was very stuck up and judgemental. At the same time that she loathed her American family for commenting on her Asiannes, she was also very racist towards her Chinese roots. And the constant racist comments and racial slurs from the characters (mostly in the New York part of the book) felt unwarranted and unnecessary when they weren't accompanied by real growth on anyone's part.

It felt like Kevin Kwan was writing this novel and, with 50 pages left, suddenly remembered that the main character needed to start accepting herself. It didn't feel natural like her mother's development did. Marian gets in contact with a woman who's very proud to be Chinese, and throughout the book starts going back to her roots. I wish Lucie's development had been as gradual and as well done.

Speaking of, Marian and Rosemary were my favourite part of this whole book (I also really liked Freddie, Lucie's brother). I loved seeing these two characters find such a true friendship later on in life, and Marian reconnecting with her Chinese side, which had been suppressed all these years due to her husband's family. That combined with Freddie's chill nature was a breath of fresh air amidst the superficial characters.

Another thing that didn't feel natural was the romance. I felt like even though these characters had great chemistry, we never really get to see their relationship develop, not even in Capri. We get a few bonding moments between them, but nothing that tells me why they are falling in love. George is too perfect, and although he was also one of my favourite characters, he never feels real because of this. And, in the second half of the book, the romance interest doesn't show up nearly enough to make their connection make sense. When they meet again after five years I wanted more interaction between them to make me truly care and root for this couple, something to make me believe they were in love and not simply infatuated with each other.

Overall, this book just felt like it had a lot of great ingredients that weren't mixed very well. The character development was harmed by the constant name-dropping and descriptions. I couldn't connect with any characters, didn't care about any of them. And seen as the plot of this book is basically non-existent because it's all about the characters' relationships to each other and to themselves, that really hindered my enjoyment of the story.

What I can't seem to wrap my head around is the fact that, in Crazy Rich Asians, there's a lot of name-dropping and descriptions of grandeur, but they were better intertwined with the story. I cared about the characters because they were fleshed out enough for me to do so. So it pains me that Kevin Kwan didn't manage to achieve this again. I know I shouldn't compare this to Crazy Rich Asians, seen as it's its own different story and all. But when an author writes such a successful and well-done series about rich people's antics, I can't help but compare it to his other book about rich people's antics.

I'm just generally very sad I didn't love this as much as I expected it to and, although I enjoyed the first half very much, it's not enough to make up for everything I didn't like about this book.

Disclaimer: even though I was sent this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, I had already gotten the book for myself, so technically, it wasn't gifted.
Was this review helpful?
One sentence synopsis: A homage to A Room With a View, Sex and Vanity follows Lucie as she's caught between two worlds - that of her WASP father's family and the enigmatic George Zao.

It's hard not to compare Sex and Vanity to Kwan's smash hit Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. Now, I will always appreciate Kwan's trademark witty and sarcastic writing style and his approach to racism and class differences. However, while this book was entertaining and set in idyllic locations, it, unfortunately, didn't meet my expectations. My main issue was that I didn't feel a connection to, or generally like, the majority of the characters.

Nonetheless, if you want to escape this summer to the playgrounds of the rich and famous, then you will probably enjoy reading Sex and Vanity.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for this honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I had high hopes for this one after Crazy Rich Asians and while the world was certainly glitzy in this one too, I couldn't get into it and it failed to keep my attention.
Was this review helpful?
Hyped is the word I'd use to describe this book ! And because of all the hype, this one has been on my TBR for the longest time ! This was my very first book by the author and I have kind of a mixed opinion about this one. One one hand, I was about to DNF it, but after reading it for a while, I kind of liked it a bit. Maybe I'll read it again someday and maybe I'll love it then. This book has a lot of potential but I think I wasn't looking for this particular genre when I started reading this.
Was this review helpful?
I requested a copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review.

I enjoyed reading Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asian books, thus I was a bit excited to read another book of his. However, I ended up marking this as a DNF. There doesn't seem to be anything new and exciting with this, and I think I wanted something different, even if this still involved the vapid lifestyle of the rich. However, if you are a fan of the Crazy Rich Asians movie and wanted something similar, this might be a book for you.
Was this review helpful?
It's Kevin Kwan! I don't think I need to say more. He's the king of fun and juicy. Anyone who liked Crazy Rich Asians will love this.
Was this review helpful?
If you loved Crazy Rich Asians then you will love this new book.
Full of fun, glamour, fashion it is a true page turner and kept me hooked from the moment I opened the book.
Was this review helpful?
I was very eager to read Sex and Vanity after hearing such fantastic things about Kevin Kwan's other books, and while reading it I could see why his writing style would appeal to so many people. Unfortunately, for me, the story felt a little flat - for all the decadence and name-dropping of brands, artists and celebrities, it felt a little unfocused and very few of the characters (or their stories) appealed to me. I think it's a perfectly acceptable story with a narrative that some people will love but it just wasn't the right fit for me.
Was this review helpful?
I raced through Sex and Vanity which was the perfect distraction for a lockdown 2020. I was there on Capri as the characters breezed their way through the wedding lifestyles of the rich and famous and it was a total joy to visit with them. There was a gorgeous familiarity with some of the plot but it only struck me late into the book how it's a re-telling of A Room with a View because Kwan has such skill in taking you on a ride with his characters. Loved it.
Was this review helpful?
I thoroughly enjoyed the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, so was thrilled to see another Kevin Kwan book coming. Whilst it was a fun, lighthearted read (especially good for the moment) I have to admit to feeling mildly disappointed, as at times it did feel like we were retreading ground he had already covered. I also found the listing of each characters schools a bit distracting from the main narrative. Overall though still a fun read that I would recommend to fans and new readers alike.
Was this review helpful?
It's the first book I read by Kevin Kwan and won't surely be the last as this one was highly enjoyable and entertaining.
I think this is a sort of chick lit on steroids with an interesting cast of characters and an interesting style of writing.
The author is a talented storyteller and the plot kept me hooked till the end. I loved the descriptions of Capri and New York, they are so accurate that you could use this book as a travel guide for rich people.
The characters are fleshed out and I appreciated how the author deal with theme like identity.
I had a lot of fun in trying to match characters and plot to those of Forster's "A Room with a View".
It was an excellent and enjoyable read, highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Was this review helpful?
This book was an entertaining read, but I think I made the mistake in comparing it too much to Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin's other series.

Warnings: Racism & a manipulative relationship

I found the writing to be comfortable and entertaining, though the story moved quite fast at times. It's laced with plenty of pop culture references (think Outlander, Downton Abby, The Gaines family and more!) The book contains a healthy blend of dialogue and vivid descriptions that made me want to visit wherever the characters were at that point in time. 
Unfortunately, I was able to predict how the story would eventually end, so that's a little disappointing, but it didn't take anything away from the story.

I think Kevin Kwan dealt beautifully with racism in this story. Within the first 20 pages Lucie is introduced through her parents, immediately emphasizing her lineage. Throughout the story Lucie stands up for herself and speaks out about the constant critique and racism that she's been facing pretty much her entire life. 

The characters were okay for me. The highlights really were the mothers for me! Rosemary Zao and Marian Churchill could have an entire book of their own and I would read it with great pleasure! I didn't much care for Lucie though, and as the story progressed I disliked her more and more. She just isn't as relatable as Rachel from CRA. 

I would've liked to have seen some more of George in this book, as we don't really get to know too much about him other than that he's Rosemary's son and that he's basically as chiseled as a statue of a Greek god. 

All in all, it's an entertaining read that confused me at times (especially after the six-year time jump between Capri and New York), but it has fun elderly ladies and vividly describes beautiful islands in the Mediterranean Sea through entertaining writing and storytelling, so regardless of my opinion, I feel like you should definitely read this book yourself to form a solid opinion on it. 
If you enjoyed Kevin Kwan's other books, this will definitely be something you like.
Was this review helpful?
Welcome to the world of billionaires, high flyers and Old Money full of glitz and glamour. You're cordially invited to read "Sex and Vanity", a new novel by Kevin Kwan, the author of spectacular "Crazy Rich Asians". It tells the story of a young girl called Lucie Churchill and starts with an extravagant wedding in Capri and summer romance, then takes reader to New York and equally opulent WASP circles. Full of charm and humour, this book is the most coveted holiday accessory this summer!

But. But that's not all. You see, Lucie is biracial, struggling to find her place between between the two cultures - that of her Chinese-American mother and her white father, whose family is rich, influential and also, well, racist. The casual racist remarks, the snobbery and class prejudices are one of the reasons why Lucie is trying hard to fit in and why her summer romance with George Zao is frown upon. Lucie's struggle to her self-discovery is one of the main drives of the story, which means that to me the last part of the book seemed rushed and abrupt. But the main redeemer and gel of the story is a fantastic humour and some characters presented almost like caricatures. No one does over the top like Kevin Kwan.

Ok. If you're still unconvinced please read review by Chinese-American bloggers who pointed out the most obvious thing about the book - that it is a retelling of "A Room with a view".... Or, just read the book yourself and make a decision. Have fun!
Was this review helpful?
Last week I read 'A Room with a View' by EM Forster followed by Kevin Kwan's 'Sex and Vanity'. The latter is a retelling of the former, and since I had never read any Forster (#catchingupwiththeclassics), I thought this would be a fun thing to do. 
As many will know, Forster's novel is gorgeous, utterly charming and hilarious. 


Kwan's newest book is a dive into a glittery, name-droppy world in which the skies are blue, the boats and cars are fast, and the characters are bedecked in fantastic jewelery and designer clothes. It was great fun to trace Forster's original in Kwan's novel. But underneath all the glam, I especially enjoyed discovering a poignant tale of a young bi-racial woman on a journey self-discovery and her quest of belonging and love. I really, really enjoyed this!!
Was this review helpful?
I wanted to love this book so much but it was a very rare DNF from me. I loved the Crazy Rich Asians series (loved them) but it feels like the author lost his witty edge a little in this one and wandered into a fluffier territory. I'm sure some people will love it and it might be great as a holiday read but sadly not for me.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley and The Publisher for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 stars rounded down.

This was another fun read about a fantastical rich girl and her 'complicated' love life. I love Kwan's descriptions of all the decadence and lavishness of the lifestyles of the shamelessly rich. The added dimension of the mixed-race identity and acceptance in both spaces was good to get the reader thinking but could maybe have been explored a bit deeper.

A lovely summer beach read
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this a lot but I found myself comparing it to Crazy Rich Asians and unfortunately Lucie just was nowhere’s near as likeable as Rachel , I also liked her less as the story went on. I found I really enjoyed the story well over the first half , but after that and towards the end I felt it just lost its way a bit and I didn’t enjoy it as much. It’s still a great story and a light fun read, but unfortunately I think I felt disappointed by how much I loved Kevin’s previous books, it just wasn’t on the same level.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Was this review helpful?
This is my first Kevin Kwan book and no I have finished it I cannot wait to delve into his first trilogy!

This book is all kind of easy, cosy, summer reading that is needed in this current world. If you want to get whisked away to a Mediterranean island and then see the world of New York through the eyes of the elite then I highly recommend this book. Kevin creates characters that are larger than life, relatable and people who we all know! Even though you know roughly what the ending is going to be like I wasn't mad, I was routing for this ending and read as fast as I could to ensure it happened! 

The plot line is split between two locations of Capri and New York, first meeting the characters in 2013 and then in 2018 where there is a chance encounter and their lives become intertwined all over again. The story line is a revamp on 'A room with a view' by E.M Forster, although I have not read this I am now intrigued to pick it up to see the similarities.

Thank you to Random House, Netgalley and Kevin Kwan for the chance to review this book, I enjoyed every second and will ensure that I talk about it to everyone and make them read it too!
Was this review helpful?