This is one of those unusual situations for me – i watched the movie before i read the book. This time around i didn’t read the book first because i heard about the movie before the book and there was such hype about it, we just decided to watch it.
It was a good movie, which showcased some parts of Singapore but we felt that it showed little of what Singapore is really like or how the average Singaporean lives. But of course, the story had little to do with the average Singaporean.
i thought i would read the book to see if there was more to it. While there was not much about normal Singaporean life, it did have more.
It contained, as expected of a book, so many more layers and sub-plots than a movie can present. i also felt that the movie presented a few of the characters in quite a different light than the book did. But again, this was not out of the ordinary for a movie adaption.
i, of course, liked the book better! No surprise there. The book followed not just the story of Nicholas and Rachel but also of Nicholas’ cousin, Astrid. Kwan keeps us on the edge by moving between the storylines, yet maintaining a strong link between the various plots and really showing off how complex family relations can get in a large, wealthy Asian family. It was great to have the family tree at the beginning of the book to guide us through the complicated who’s related to who bits.
i love how the various cousins and aunts are all trying to get a piece of the action by being their super KP (kaypoh = colloquial for busybody) selves and stepping over what most would consider normal family actions/reactions. In this aspect, i feel Kwan has done a good job.
i also enjoyed the ending which doesn’t quite tie all things up in a nice bow, we leave the story sort of in the middle of the action and this gives the reader room to imagine what might happen after. It gives a nice sense that their stories are not at an end, that there is more to come.
If you want to learn some Singaporean slang, dive into the completely upside-down world of the super-rich and a good Romeo/Juliet-type story, then this is the read for you.