The title of bestselling author Kevin Kwan’s blazingly fun new novel is a bit of a misnomer: There’s very little sex. But that’s not what we go to the author of Crazy Rich Asians for, is it? What Kwan consistently delivers—and does so again in Sex and Vanity—are fantastic tales of the over-the-top wealthy, written with just enough empathy to make us care about young, beautiful trust-fund billionaires.
Meet Lucie Tang Churchill. She’s the beautiful daughter of a Mayflower descendant and a Chinese American from Seattle. On her lily-white paternal side, Lucie has always been the outcast. Although she’s a born-and-bred New Yorker, her patrician grandmother still calls her an offensive slang term for a subservient Chinese woman.
When Lucie travels to Italy for the extravagant wedding of a childhood friend, she meets George Zao, a handsome surfer from Hong Kong. Lucie and George get caught in a compromising position at the wedding, and they sheepishly go their separate ways.
Fast-forward five years, and Lucie is a successful art consultant engaged to Cecil Pike, a Texas oil heir and a “GQ-handsome bon vivant.” But Lucie’s family looks down their noses at Cecil’s new money, and Cecil’s family looks right back at Lucie the same way. It’s clear Lucie and Cecil are an odd match—to everyone except Lucie and Cecil. And when George reemerges, Lucie begins to question everything she thought she wanted.
Sex and Vanity is a deliciously fun romp from Capri to Manhattan and East Hampton. Kwan is in fine form, gleefully name-dropping luxury brands and socialites as he spins a heartfelt, satirical tale that observes the price of fame, fortune and following your heart.