Sex and Vanity
The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians returns with a glittering tale of love and longing as a young woman finds herself torn between two worlds–the WASP establishment of her father’s family and George Zao, a man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with.On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can’t stand him. She can’t stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have the view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can’t stand that he knows more about Curzio Malaparte than she does, and she really can’t stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin, Charlotte. “Your mother is Chinese so it’s no surprise you’d be attracted to someone like him,” Charlotte teases. Daughter of an American-born-Chinese mother and blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancé, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again. Soon, Lucy is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment, and ultimately herself as she tries mightily to deny George entry into her world–and her heart. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures.

Sex and Vanity Details

TitleSex and Vanity
Author
ReleaseJul 14th, 2020
PublisherDoubleday Canada
ISBN-139780385695404
Rating
GenreFiction, Romance, Contemporary, Womens Fiction, Chick Lit, Adult, Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Retellings, Audiobook, Realistic Fiction

Sex and Vanity Review

  • Lily Herman
    January 1, 1970
    *takes deep breath* *prepares for pitchforks*Okay. Okay okay okay okay OKAY. I'm sorry to say it, but...I wasn't a fan of this novel.Retellings of any sort are difficult. I should know; I'm the bitch who read four different Pride & Prejudice retellings in the past two months. (I hate me too!) One thing I've learned from seeing how a variety of authors reinterpret past literature is that the best adaptations are those that don't just shuffle a few things around and give the source material a fres *takes deep breath* *prepares for pitchforks*Okay. Okay okay okay okay OKAY. I'm sorry to say it, but...I wasn't a fan of this novel.Retellings of any sort are difficult. I should know; I'm the bitch who read four different Pride & Prejudice retellings in the past two months. (I hate me too!) One thing I've learned from seeing how a variety of authors reinterpret past literature is that the best adaptations are those that don't just shuffle a few things around and give the source material a fresh coat of paint; they really seek to rebuild that work from scratch and keep its essential lessons while providing a new landscape.When I was reading Sex and Vanity, I intentionally tried not to compared it to Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians series. However, that's impossible to do here: This novel is written with the identical dishy tone and footnotes as Kwan's first three novels, and while the characters are different, a lot of the overarching messages and world-building were very similar.But when I thought about it, what was much more difficult to overlook was that Sex and Vanity's arc was much like Crazy Rich Asians' narrative in many ways, except I think Rachel Chu made for a much more captivating heroine than Lucie. Some of the themes that Kwan touched on were good, but again, we've seen many of them before in other iterations of his previous work. If I was going to write a dissertation on this (Lord help us), it'd be that Crazy Rich Asians could possibly be seen as the more elevated and enlightened retelling of A Room With a View in some aspects than the novel that's supposed to be an adaptation.That said, I definitely think this book will be a great summer beach read for many people; it's light, the characters are airily unlikable at worst, and you can hit a fun fashion designer name on every page. Perhaps some people will find its similarities to the Crazy Rich Asians series to be its greatest strength. I just think it lacked that extra little something to take it to the next level, and I'm sad I didn't like it more.
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  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    January 1, 1970
    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ I requested this thinking I was a total longshot at getting approved. I mean this Kevin guy might have a career in writing, know what I’m saying? If you know me you know I’m not super big on books in a series so I’ve been awaiting the day Kwan would break out of the Crazy Rich Asian world and introduce us to some new characters. I about pooped myself when I received the approval and couldn’t wait to start. Especially after coming off Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ I requested this thinking I was a total longshot at getting approved. I mean this Kevin guy might have a career in writing, know what I’m saying? If you know me you know I’m not super big on books in a series so I’ve been awaiting the day Kwan would break out of the Crazy Rich Asian world and introduce us to some new characters. I about pooped myself when I received the approval and couldn’t wait to start. Especially after coming off a book high with The Heart’s Invisible Furies I was 100% interested in something light and fun in order to cure my book hangover. This may not have been a Rachel and Nick story, but from the cover alone I knew I was going to get to experience the opulence my real life contains zero of. You know what I’m talking about . . . . What I did not know I was getting? A modernization of my favorite book of all time . . . . That was like “pass the smelling salts please ‘cause momma ‘bout to pass out from excite.” You might want to take my rating with a grain of salt, because I am absolutely biased here. That being said, I read a lot of modernizations (usually P&P, but I do mix it up with Shakespeare retellings and others occasionally) and thought this one was well done and oh-so-much fun. It doesn’t come out until July (sorry), but that’s the perfect time to soak up some sun and read about rich people vacationing in Capri and the Hamptons anyway so add it to the TBR if you need to treat yo self.ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
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  • ✨ A ✨
    January 1, 1970
    YES YES YES!!The other day I was thinking about how I miss the Crazy Rich Asians books and now we're getting new Kevin Kwan content!!• Release Date: July 14th 2020 •(ps. this book is not part of the Crazy Rich Asians series) YES YES YES!!The other day I was thinking about how I miss the Crazy Rich Asians books and now we're getting new Kevin Kwan content!!• Release Date: July 14th 2020 •(ps. this book is not part of the Crazy Rich Asians series)
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    While this doesn't have the freshness and breezy comedy of Crazy Rich Asians, it's another fun romance. Lucie is sweet but lacks the character of Rachel and there's no good reason for her original antagonism to gorgeous George. What I like about Kwan is that he sends up snobbery and excess while being fundamentally good-natured (on Auden: "I'm going to speak about the role of mindfulness in resolving global conflict") and even awful Cecil (with his weekly appointment with a wealth psychologist!) While this doesn't have the freshness and breezy comedy of Crazy Rich Asians, it's another fun romance. Lucie is sweet but lacks the character of Rachel and there's no good reason for her original antagonism to gorgeous George. What I like about Kwan is that he sends up snobbery and excess while being fundamentally good-natured (on Auden: "I'm going to speak about the role of mindfulness in resolving global conflict") and even awful Cecil (with his weekly appointment with a wealth psychologist!) is actually a poor little rich boy. I haven't read A Room With A View on which this is based but the story stands alone and there's no question where the resolution is going: cute and contemporary, a sunny, feel-good romance which left me with a smile on my face.Thanks to Random House/Cornerstone for an ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    THE AUTHOR OF CRAZY RICH ASIANS IS WRITING ANOTHER BOOKI NEED IT!!!!!!
  • Yodamom
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars My first Kwan read was a hit for me. I was quickly hooked with all the quirky characters and the location. I didn’t even like any of the characters and still I enjoyed this read very much, it was hard to put down. The visuals were amazing, Mr. Kwan writes images so beautifully. We star is one of the most stunning places, Capri Italy. Lucie and her cousin (chaperon) are there for a wedding. Not a normal wedding, no imagine having an endless budget and a need to wow the world type weddi 3.5 stars My first Kwan read was a hit for me. I was quickly hooked with all the quirky characters and the location. I didn’t even like any of the characters and still I enjoyed this read very much, it was hard to put down. The visuals were amazing, Mr. Kwan writes images so beautifully. We star is one of the most stunning places, Capri Italy. Lucie and her cousin (chaperon) are there for a wedding. Not a normal wedding, no imagine having an endless budget and a need to wow the world type wedding and you’d still to get close. It was a jaw dropping experience. While there she manages to meet a sexy Chinese man, one her family and friends would not approve of. In this world money and status comes trumps love every time. Too bad they keep getting thrown together and the feelings are real, even if not welcome.Lucie is half Asian and was raise all her life not to let down her family. Avoiding her Asian heritage trying to blend in with her billionaire friends. She’s nasty, racist, a chameleon, who judges all based on her narrow views. I never grew to like her at all.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 rounded upKevin Kwan's new novel, Sex and Vanity is a modern retelling of A Room with a View, however this time the story is set in the mid 10s, between 2014 and 2019 (as opposed to the early 1900s setting of the original), with Kwan keeping the location in Italy but relocating the story to Capri and the Amalfi Coast (as opposed to Florence). Fair warning though - this novel is also a bit of a hot mess in some ways, but I'd venture that if you enjoys Kwan's brand of writing in the Crazy Rich 2.5 rounded upKevin Kwan's new novel, Sex and Vanity is a modern retelling of A Room with a View, however this time the story is set in the mid 10s, between 2014 and 2019 (as opposed to the early 1900s setting of the original), with Kwan keeping the location in Italy but relocating the story to Capri and the Amalfi Coast (as opposed to Florence). Fair warning though - this novel is also a bit of a hot mess in some ways, but I'd venture that if you enjoys Kwan's brand of writing in the Crazy Rich Asians: 1 series then you'll find something to enjoy here too.I must admit that I haven't read the original novel, however after a cursory glance at its synopsis and a number of reviews it appears that this adaptation is pretty faithful to the original in terms of characters and plot... perhaps a little too faithful. The story feels a bit clumsy in some ways, and I think a fair bit of that comes down to this attempt at faithfulness to the original content: the characters, particularly Lucie and Charlotte in the earlier sections in Capri, speak like they've come straight out of an Austen novel on one page and are flustered by certain events (which I won't mention for fear of spoilers), then on the next they're using modern day expletives and acting in a totally different manner. The same can be said for specifically Lucie's personality - she's weirdly conservative and comes across as very naive earlier on, and feels like a half sketched imitation of a character.That said, if you're looking for an easy, breezy, check-out-your-brain kind of read like I was when I picked this up, it'll tick most of the boxes. Later sections veered pretty closely to sounding like they were bonus chapters from the Crazy Rich Asians series, with vapid characters competing to sound the most rich and brash, fashionable and cool.A modern retelling which probably won't please fans of the original, but entertained this reader for one sunny afternoon of reading under lockdown (and pretending I was in Capri too!).Thank you Netgalley and Random House UK / Cornerstone for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Nina
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I found this book to be very disappointing. The first part, set on Capri, was mostly fun, but even there the problems that would persist throughout showed. Lucie, around whom the story revolves, was bizarrely naive and sheltered for a rich American city girl in college in 2013 and her companion/cousin Charlotte was likewise bizarrely fusty and prim. Eventually realizing that this is a modern retelling of "A Room With A View" didn' I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I found this book to be very disappointing. The first part, set on Capri, was mostly fun, but even there the problems that would persist throughout showed. Lucie, around whom the story revolves, was bizarrely naive and sheltered for a rich American city girl in college in 2013 and her companion/cousin Charlotte was likewise bizarrely fusty and prim. Eventually realizing that this is a modern retelling of "A Room With A View" didn't help, because Charlotte's concerns about proper behavior and decorum and Lucie's inexperience seem incredibly out of touch for 21st century women not raised in convents. All of the other characters are unlikable, except Lucie's mother Marian who appears late in the story and Mrs Zao, who is painted as flamboyant and embarrassing but clearly just has a good heart. If you're familiar with "A Room With A View" there are no surprises in the plot. If you're familiar with typical romance novel tropes, there are no surprises in the plot. If you're a fan of the over-the-top rich people nonsense from CRA, you'll enjoy the even more over-the-top rich people nonsense here. But if you're looking for a repeat of the fun of Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians series, look elsewhere.
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  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]
    January 1, 1970
    On her first day on the island of Capri, Lucie Churchill (yes, one of those Churchills) sets her eyes on George Zao, and finds an instant attraction. They spend time together during her vacation, and ultimately she gives him up, torn between how her WASP family would view her relationship with an Asian man. Years later, Lucie is engaged and bumps into George. Sparks fly, but what does it mean?Did Cecil write this? Because it completely sounds like something Cecil would write.I feel like Kwan was On her first day on the island of Capri, Lucie Churchill (yes, one of those Churchills) sets her eyes on George Zao, and finds an instant attraction. They spend time together during her vacation, and ultimately she gives him up, torn between how her WASP family would view her relationship with an Asian man. Years later, Lucie is engaged and bumps into George. Sparks fly, but what does it mean?Did Cecil write this? Because it completely sounds like something Cecil would write.I feel like Kwan was trying too hard to recreate the success of Crazy Rich Asians while also doing a Jane Austen retelling within the upper stratospheres of rich WASP society, and it didn't quite work. It's going to be a pop-up on Newtown Lane, right next to James Perse. We're going to start small at first and offer an Ayurvedic juice bar, qigong, puppy yoga, breath work meditation, and maybe some sound healing. See what the community responds to.I feel that part of the issue was he tried to do too much—a scathing expose of WASP racism, a Jane Austen retelling, some mixed media aspects, and recapturing the gossipy and catty tone of CRA, complete with its name-dropping of all the Right brands and some gauche-riche brands and everything else.While I liked that he did rip into cultural appropriation and racial microaggressions, I felt like it didn't go far enough? And that eventually the parody of the way white yogic gurus culturally appropriate, mutate, rebrand and sell back a traditional religion was...eventually also kinda adopted as okay in its ridiculousness?I also felt that the first half was far too long. The summary made it feel like the first part in the past would be a brief prologue, but Capri was nearly half the book. The rest felt rushed and boring and artificial.Plus the two leads were bland as mayonnaise.Aside from her final moment, Lucie had absolutely no backbone or personal agenda. The lack of a backbone was completely justified based on her upbringing with her racist grandmother, who would dress her up in culturally inappropriate clothing as a child and call her her little China doll, but the lack of personal agenda was also...I dunno. She just went along with the flow the entire book, and did whatever was expected of her. She was something to everyone without ever feeling like a real person herself.And George was...I could never get a good read on George. He was a self-named eco-warrior who fought for sustainable housing and eco-friendly other shit, but he never seemed to reflect on his own wealth or did anything about his family's environmentally damaging shipping industry. He felt like a hypocrite in his own way, wearing the best clothing and jet-setting across the world while advocating for environmentally sustainable solutions for the lower classes. He was a champion surfer. A glorious specimen of man. A hippy dude. A billionaire focused on the environment while living the high life. Obsessed with architecture and the love of one woman. Basically, he was Leonardo diCaprio...minus the love of one woman thing.I did appreciate the subtle shout outs to Crazy Rich Asians though.It did do a fantastic job of capturing the racism and exclusionary practices of the upper, upper crust WASP community, and the name-dropping and scrabbling among the lesser wealthy to elevate their own status. It did a decent job retelling Persuasion (I think this is the one it was retelling), what with Lucie refusing George because of his ethnicity and her interracial identity coupled with her upbringing and not wanting to further sully her family (her grandmother and family did a number on her), and a sex scandal that wasn't.And Cecil was an absolute asshat—although one that you could kiiiiiiinda root for, since he was trying to break into the upper crust, so Kwan succeeded in that?Overall, this wasn't a bad book. I appreciate what it was trying to do, although it failed on the execution.There was a lot of vanity, and not a whole lot of sex.I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
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  • Bethany
    January 1, 1970
    UPDATE: Looking at reviews I'm realizing this was intended to be a retelling of A Room With A View. Which I have not read, so I can't really comment on how well it was executed.*******************************************As soon as I heard Kevin Kwan was releasing a new book, I wanted to snap it up. But while there are some similarities with Crazy Rich Asians, Sex and Vanity is also quite different, for both good and ill. This is less fluffy, more substantive, but doesn't always come together the UPDATE: Looking at reviews I'm realizing this was intended to be a retelling of A Room With A View. Which I have not read, so I can't really comment on how well it was executed.*******************************************As soon as I heard Kevin Kwan was releasing a new book, I wanted to snap it up. But while there are some similarities with Crazy Rich Asians, Sex and Vanity is also quite different, for both good and ill. This is less fluffy, more substantive, but doesn't always come together the way I wanted it to. What Sex and Vanity does really well is tackle big issues like racism, internalized racism, and the complexities of being of mixed race. The early portion of the book has more of the fun and silly tone you see in Crazy Rich Asians, but it becomes much more serious and that sometimes meshes less well with the often flippant style of writing. Uneven pacing and a plot arc that involves cheating on a somewhat clownish significant other also detracted from the overall story.Lucie Churchill is from elite lineage, but struggles with her biracial identity. With a white dad and a Chinese mom, she never feels white enough or Asian enough and deals with a lot of internalized racism, partly due to microagressions from her WASPish family. The first half of this book takes place across a few days at a wedding when she is 19, but the rest of the book is more spread out and takes place a few years later. This pacing feels a little weird and sometimes plodding, especially because we are primarily follow Lucie's story rather than a whole cast of characters. (We do get other perspectives occasionally, but Lucie is clearly the MC) I did really like seeing Lucie's journey toward love and self-acceptance, but along the way that includes kind of cheating on her fiancee and I wish that had been handled differently. And the fiancee is portrayed as very ridiculous. Including a strange scene involving his desire for role-playing during sex that I think is intended to be funny, but for me was just awkward and cringe-worthy. Ultimately, I had mixed feelings on this one. I liked what Kwan was trying to do here, but I'm not sure it always quite landed. I received an advance copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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  • mindful.librarian ☀️
    January 1, 1970
    (free review copy) Let me be the first to say I adored the CRA series on audio and have such vivid memories of the listening experience. And I was super excited for this one. And I really did enjoy the first part when they were in Capri - 4.5 stars for that. Then it fell off a cliff for me, I'm sorry to say. Oh well, I'll read future works by Kwan and hope for better next time.
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  • Cheryl DeFranceschi
    January 1, 1970
    Every bit as fun to read as your could hope for. All the frothy, fabulous fun. I could not have found a better read for this time. It took me away to the fabulous Capri and held my attention hostage in the most delightful of ways.
  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    A whirlwind. I’m dazed.I was initially wary when I read the synopsis, which states our protagonist Lucie Tang Churchill “has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side.” A story about the internalized racism of a biracial woman born to a WASP dad and Asian mom, written by a non-biracial Asian man? Why? In Crazy Rich Asians there is a line about Rachel Chu not dating Asian men that was cut from the movie, as not to perpetuate stereotypes. I wondered about this book’s i A whirlwind. I’m dazed.I was initially wary when I read the synopsis, which states our protagonist Lucie Tang Churchill “has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side.” A story about the internalized racism of a biracial woman born to a WASP dad and Asian mom, written by a non-biracial Asian man? Why? In Crazy Rich Asians there is a line about Rachel Chu not dating Asian men that was cut from the movie, as not to perpetuate stereotypes. I wondered about this book’s intentions.So I hesitantly started reading. I quickly got hooked and lost myself in this opulent world.Kevin Kwan writes Lucie with empathy and sensitivity. She is complex, not a raging self-hating caricature. She was raised with Chinese culture through her mom and respects it. But it’s not easy being biracial in her rich, snooty circles. Her white cousin Charlotte constantly others her by declaring “her mother is Chinese, but her father is American” (though Marian Tang was born in Seattle). Her paternal grandmother is very patronizing, and has always referred to her as an “exquisite little china doll.” Asians casually ask what she is and dissect her bloodlines in front of her as if she is an object, a prized breed. Lucie notes how an Asian woman with flashy clothes and a strong accent is singled out for derision, though other rich people around them dress just as gaudily. Her white-passing brother moves through the world with ease. Lucie’s mother is a strong, proud woman, but she alone can’t shield her daughter from the shame of being different.A lifetime of microaggressions is why Lucie fights her instant attraction to George Zao, whom she first meets in Capri when she is 19, during a friend’s extravagant destination wedding. George is kind, handsome, and so comfortable in his own skin as a Chinese person, and perhaps Lucie resents that most of all. But they are so drawn to each other, as if they’d been involved in a past life... They have a dalliance, part in dramatic circumstances, and cross paths again 5 years later in NY, when Lucie is engaged to a rich and pretentious white bore named Cecil. The chemistry between Lucie and George is palpable, and in desperation she resorts to some pretty rotten behavior to get George out of her life. Lucie has to learn that what she wants matters more than what she thinks the white, blue-blooded side of her family will accept.The book is focused on Lucie’s self-discovery more than the romance, which feels rather rushed and underdeveloped as a result. I was a fan of George Zao (I mean, it’s hard not to love George when the alternative is Cecil), but he was put on a pedestal, a hunky, do-no-wrong, overly perfect wunderkind. My favorite characters ended up being the two Chinese mothers, Marian Tang and Rosemary Zao, who develop a kind of late-in-life new friendship I wish happened more often. I want them to come over and cook Chinese food for me.Sex and Vanity is written in the same dishy tone as CRA, set in a similar ritzy world. It pays homage to A Room with a View, and familiarity with Forster’s novel will definitely enhance your reading experience. Despite some flaws, this a fun summer read and a sympathetic portrayal of a conflicted young woman.
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  • Brooklyn Tayla
    January 1, 1970
    I received a finished copy of Sex and Vanity from Penguin Books Australia in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.Sex And Vanity heralds Kevin Kwan’s much awaited, eagerly anticipated first book in a brand new series. I haven’t yet read his Crazy Rich Asians series just yet but honestly I’m really grateful that I have three more Kevin Kwan books to look forward to reading because I absolutely loved this book! It’s completely filled with indulgence, packed to the brim with luxur I received a finished copy of Sex and Vanity from Penguin Books Australia in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.Sex And Vanity heralds Kevin Kwan’s much awaited, eagerly anticipated first book in a brand new series. I haven’t yet read his Crazy Rich Asians series just yet but honestly I’m really grateful that I have three more Kevin Kwan books to look forward to reading because I absolutely loved this book! It’s completely filled with indulgence, packed to the brim with luxury and excess and every minute was a complete joyous hoot to experience! If you’re looking for a wonderful pick me up during these slightly cumbersome and stressful times that we’re finding ourselves in, or of you’re just looking for a completely fun, addictive and wholly memorable read, then Sex and Vanity is definitely for you! I am wholeheartedly recommending it because as soon as I finished it, I felt like I instantly wanted to reread it!There’s nothing not to love about Sex and Vanity, it’s an ode to A Room With a View and is just absolutely bubbling with memorable characters (with a completely brilliant lead character), and hilarious quips throughout. At every point throughout the book I felt that I was there with Lucie, through her wonderfully excessive trip to Capri, where she’s celebrating days-upon-days of festivities for a wedding. Lucie Churchill (daughter of an American Father and Chinese/American Mother), was instantly a loveable lead character for me, someone who’s had to deal with being dressed up as a little girl during one Summer, groomed so heavily until her scalp would bleed so she would look just right to accompany her Grandmother to her prestigious clubs. However, as unfair her treatment as a child might’ve been compared to her younger Brother Freddie, I absolutely adored the family dynamic throughout this book! Not only did Brother and Sister completely adore one another, but Marian (their Mother), is a celebrated Doctor in her own right, who met and fell in love with the Father of their Children before he tragically died. I really felt the love that Lucie felt for her Mother and Brother and the fondness that Charlotte felt for her little Cousin, knowing Lucie ever since she was a little girl. The reader is also introduced to the brooding George Zao, who Lucie instantly takes a dislike to, thinking that he’s completely obnoxious and pretentious, only to be slightly flooded when she learns that he has a passion for sustainability, history, culture and The Arts. I absolutely adored George’s character, although I initially wasn’t sure what to make of him, though I knew I couldn’t wait for more of his scenes with Lucie! Their chemistry was completely undeniable right from the get go and I found myself looking forward to more of their scenes.I feel I can go into detail a bit here without divulging too much of the story (as it’s hinted within the Sypnosis that Lucie meets and is engaged to the pretentious Cecil Pike), who I couldn’t help but wonder if he loved the idea of Lucie more than Lucie herself. He’s completely the indulgent sort and to me it did feel like he was more into Lucie because he could feed his brand-addled self, I mean Lucie openly feels like Cecil is too excessive, not to mention that he’s blatantly rude to Lucie’s family, even if he does mock the sheer ridiculous-ness of some of her relatives, causing Lucie to laugh and feel as if he understands that she never quite felt like she belonged. However, I did wonder about Lucie’s agreeing to accept Cecil’s proposal, wondering if she’d really marry him to keep up a facade of false airs for his sake.Whilst Lucie had completely made a name for herself by working hard in the art world, swiftly becoming one of the most sought after Art Consultants, hired by the highest pedigree of Clients, I completely feel that much like Marian, Lucie worked hard for her wealth, and unlike Cecil and some of each sides of their relatives, Lucie wouldn’t judge someone based on if they were wearing last season’s high end fashion. I completely found Lucie Churchill to be a total breath of fresh air and definitely can’t wait to read about what’s next for her (and George and the rest of these delightful characters!) in the next book!Kevin Kwan’s writing was an utter delight to experience, I’m completely contemplating binging Crazy Rich Asians very soon, as I couldn’t put Sex and Vanity down! The writing was wonderfully satirical, yet completely evocative, filled to the brim with fun, extravagance and different cultures! There’s something in Sex And Vanity that everyone can appreciate I’m sure and it’s just perfect escapist fiction! I loved Kwan’s footnotes dotted throughout the book, they just added such a brilliant second layer of comedy to the text! I’m already anticipating a reread somewhere down the line and I definitely cannot wait to pick up Crazy Rich Asians!
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  • Grey
    January 1, 1970
    This is my first Kevin Kwan book... and I'm a bit torn over how to review it. It's obvious that the author drew inspiration from A Room with a View; however, there was a ton of name dropping and the actual execution fell a bit flat for me. I enjoyed the beginning much more than the middle and end, which seemed to drag. The vivid descriptions of the landscape was above average and made me want to be there in the moment...yet, the characters themselves were somewhat more caricatures of themselves This is my first Kevin Kwan book... and I'm a bit torn over how to review it. It's obvious that the author drew inspiration from A Room with a View; however, there was a ton of name dropping and the actual execution fell a bit flat for me. I enjoyed the beginning much more than the middle and end, which seemed to drag. The vivid descriptions of the landscape was above average and made me want to be there in the moment...yet, the characters themselves were somewhat more caricatures of themselves than relatable people and it was difficult to form attachment to them or the storyline. Thank you to NetGalley and DoubleDay Publishing for the ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. 2.5 stars.
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  • Dianne
    January 1, 1970
    Surprisingly for me I very much enjoyed this book...well at least the second half I did. The first half was just a tad tedious for me.Mr. Kwan does very well with his visual descriptions but does tend to go a little overboard with them at the expense of the characters themselves.I would have liked a little more knowledge of the Asian families and I hope that one day Mr. Kwan does a comedic book like this one using full Asians.*ARC supplied by publisher and author for review.
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  • Angie
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars...Sex and Vanity wasn't what I expected. I enjoyed the beginning of the book with the wedding party in Italy. The description of the town of Capri was spot on, and made me feel like I was there. But the rest of the book felt like I was reading extra chapters of the authors previous hit series Crazy Rich Asians. The characters may be different, but the pretentious attitude of most were off putting. While I should have liked the main character, Lucie seemed very immaculate and naive thro 2.5 stars...Sex and Vanity wasn't what I expected. I enjoyed the beginning of the book with the wedding party in Italy. The description of the town of Capri was spot on, and made me feel like I was there. But the rest of the book felt like I was reading extra chapters of the authors previous hit series Crazy Rich Asians. The characters may be different, but the pretentious attitude of most were off putting. While I should have liked the main character, Lucie seemed very immaculate and naive throughout the book.This is a great summer read, but not one would pick up again.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very disappointing follow-up to my beloved Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. Sex & Vanity has a number of the same hallmarks as CRA: rich food descriptions, brand name drops, and footnotes. It isn't a strength to dip back into that well, especially with such bland. odd characters.I haven't read A Room of One's Own, so I'm not sure if the issue is with the source material or if Kwan failed to update the story for the modern day. Whatever the issue is, it is glaring. Lucie, we are told is very This was a very disappointing follow-up to my beloved Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. Sex & Vanity has a number of the same hallmarks as CRA: rich food descriptions, brand name drops, and footnotes. It isn't a strength to dip back into that well, especially with such bland. odd characters.I haven't read A Room of One's Own, so I'm not sure if the issue is with the source material or if Kwan failed to update the story for the modern day. Whatever the issue is, it is glaring. Lucie, we are told is very clever, but presents as a wealthy, mindless dilettante. Charlotte is a magazine editor in her forties, but presents as an elderly maiden aunt from a different era. George makes no sense as a leading man, because why would he be interested in Lucie - especially after her treatment of him during the cinema scene/how she recounts what happens to the other characters.The only bright spots are Marian and Mrs Zao, but as they are side characters, we only get brief smatterings of their presence.I wish I had better things to say about the book, but the material just doesn't merit it.Thank you to the publisher, via Edelweiss, for providing me with a copy for review.
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  • Hitha
    January 1, 1970
    Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians trilogy is one of my security blanket book series. I pick it up (or watch the film) when I need something comforting and to escape my own life. Sex & Vanity is a new addition to that collection. This book introduces a whole new set of characters (with some cameos made by old favorites), and makes you want to escape to Capri this very instant. I loved how Lucie - a girl so paralyzed by being perfect and being ENOUGH for her father’s patrician white family, her half- Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians trilogy is one of my security blanket book series. I pick it up (or watch the film) when I need something comforting and to escape my own life. Sex & Vanity is a new addition to that collection. This book introduces a whole new set of characters (with some cameos made by old favorites), and makes you want to escape to Capri this very instant. I loved how Lucie - a girl so paralyzed by being perfect and being ENOUGH for her father’s patrician white family, her half-Chinese identity and the global social circles she travels in - as she discovers who she really is, who she really loves, and that the things people say and the things people feel can be wholly separate. Unlike his previous trilogy which focused on an ensemble of characters, Kwan’s latest focuses solely on Lucie and follows her through some truly mortifying, self-affirming, and completely fantastical moments that sweep you away but keep you grounded at the same time. I thoroughly loved this book, and I’m already mentally casting the film version myself.
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  • Michele
    January 1, 1970
    3 1/2 stars...I will be completely truthful and admit that at about 25%, I almost didn't complete this book. That's something I rarely consider. I was struggling with the characters and couldn't connect with them. Determined not to be a "quitter," I continued on and I'm glad I did. The storyline took off and I was finally pulled into the story. This means I could finally invest in the outcome of the characters. The cover is beautiful and is one of the things that drew me to the book. Also, the f 3 1/2 stars...I will be completely truthful and admit that at about 25%, I almost didn't complete this book. That's something I rarely consider. I was struggling with the characters and couldn't connect with them. Determined not to be a "quitter," I continued on and I'm glad I did. The storyline took off and I was finally pulled into the story. This means I could finally invest in the outcome of the characters. The cover is beautiful and is one of the things that drew me to the book. Also, the fact that Kevin Kwan wrote Crazy Rich Asians and I was interested to see what "world" this author had created in Sex and Vanity. The book is very detail driven. A great deal of information is provided about people's history, their clothing and who they know. I suppose that is necessary to understand who all the characters are and why Lucie and George are different. However, it sometimes made things feel slow for me. I would have liked more time with George, but I did enjoy watching Lucie discover who she was. I simply wanted more of the romance. All in all, this was a fun book with some messages tucked in. I'm sure there are people that will love it from cover to cover. I really enjoyed parts of it but can't say I loved the entire book. It's definitely a "me" thing. Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday books for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Chelsea
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Stars! An opulent and lavish retelling of A Room with a View. If you've read Mr. Kwan's previous books, you are familiar with his way of writing that includes luxury brand names, extravagant everything under footnotes... and this book wasn't an exception. This book may be winner to some but maybe not be for others. But overall, I did enjoyed it a bit. Although I find the characters slightly underdeveloped and felt forced. ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    2.5Ahhh, I really wanted to love this so bad as I love the CRA series. Kwan’s writing style is the same as always - easy to read and really light filled with decadence and glamour. But this missed the mark for me. I’m surprised to see it isn’t actually YA as I found parts of it a little juvenile. I also found some of it quite cringey and the main character Lucie, incredibly annoying. This will be an easy beach read for the summer but for me, I was left disappointed!
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  • Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
    January 1, 1970
    3.5/5This didn't grab me the way Crazy Rich Asians did and I'll admit that I was struggling to find the plot for the first first of the book but I really did end up enjoying it in the end.
  • Angie
    January 1, 1970
    Sex and Vanity delivers more of what Kevin Kwan has become known for after writing the Crazy Rich Asians series—lavish descriptions of luxury, unabashed brand name dropping, and cheeky footnotes—but that’s not all it offers. While it’s a romantic comedy and a retelling of A Room with a View*, a central conflict in Sex and Vanity is the biracial white and Chinese American main character vs. her internalized racism.*I have not read A Room with a View or watched the movie, so I had no expectations Sex and Vanity delivers more of what Kevin Kwan has become known for after writing the Crazy Rich Asians series—lavish descriptions of luxury, unabashed brand name dropping, and cheeky footnotes—but that’s not all it offers. While it’s a romantic comedy and a retelling of A Room with a View*, a central conflict in Sex and Vanity is the biracial white and Chinese American main character vs. her internalized racism.*I have not read A Room with a View or watched the movie, so I had no expectations about the story and characters and cannot speak to this book's merit as a retelling.In Part I, which spans almost half the book, nineteen-year-old Lucie Churchill (yes, those Churchills) attends the extravagant destination wedding of her childhood friend, chaperoned by her forty-four year-old cousin Charlotte. Within the travelogue of real places and historical sites in Capri, Italy, are a number of instances in which Lucie experiences and witnesses racism and microaggressions.Explaining to a taxi driver that they are cousins, Charlotte says that Lucie's mother is Chinese and her father is American, an explanation Lucie's heard Charlotte deliver since she was young—despite Lucie’s mother being born in Seattle. Lucie recalls their grandmother’s treatment of her as a child, exoticizing and objectifying her as a “china doll.” At one point, Lucie is subjected to an increasingly offensive conversation with a wedding guest who says things like “I love the Asians!” and “do you feel more Asian or more Caucasian?”, and her feelings quickly change from initial amusement to anger. It’s an ‘oh here we go again’ kind of amusement, because these are not one-off instances but yet another occurrence that Lucie is no longer surprised by.Lucie’s awareness of these microaggressions contrasts with her reaction to meeting George Zao, a wedding guest from Hong Kong. From their first encounter, Lucie denies her curiosity about him and the attraction she feels. Having felt like an outsider in the Churchill family due to her Chinese features, perhaps she subconsciously feels that befriending or dating George would reinforce the idea of her 'otherness' and be seen as the 'wrong' choice. When Lucie sees George dive into the water in a Speedo, she's angry that he is putting his body on display and seeking attention. But is it really George that Lucie is angry at, or is she envious that he can be himself so boldly?Lucie has many conflicting feelings over the five days in Capri, but often holds them back. After the culminating incident in Part I, Charlotte’s insensitive words push Lucie over the brink into an overwhelming wave of shame that has accumulated over many years. I'm not condoning Lucie’s actions in Part II, but Part I lays the foundation for understanding Lucie’s internalized racism, which affects her choices and actions until she finally confronts it.Although I had mixed feelings when I finished reading Sex and Vanity, I did appreciate its exploration of Lucie's internal struggles. (Also, I loved Rosemary and Marian!)I won a digital advance copy from Read It Forward’s giveaway.
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  • Reading Mama
    January 1, 1970
    Kevin Kwan is back in an entertaining and over the top new story. I was a huge fan of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy and the movie, so I was so excited to see that Kevin Kwan had a new book coming out. I didn't even read the synopsis before I decided that I wanted to read his upcoming novel, but once I did read the synopsis I was completely intrigued. The story opens up when two young women, Lucie and Charlotte, attend her cousin's extravagant wedding set in Capri. When I say extravagant, I mean Kevin Kwan is back in an entertaining and over the top new story. I was a huge fan of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy and the movie, so I was so excited to see that Kevin Kwan had a new book coming out. I didn't even read the synopsis before I decided that I wanted to read his upcoming novel, but once I did read the synopsis I was completely intrigued. The story opens up when two young women, Lucie and Charlotte, attend her cousin's extravagant wedding set in Capri. When I say extravagant, I mean no expenses were spared. Isabel's wedding was the kind you read about and see pictures of in couture magazines. It made me think of the Sex and the City movies, both when Carrie and Big marry and when they travel to Abu Dhabi. Throughout the first part of the book, we are introduced to several characters that play a part throughout the story, two of those important ones being Rosemary and her son George. Lucie and George have a fling, if you will, but they both return to their normal lives as soon as the wedding festivities are over. Years later, when Lucie is engaged, George and Lucie see each other again, and all of those unresolved feelings from their time in Capri resurface. Sex and Vanity was entertaining with the perfect amount of fluff that I needed in my life. I have been reading some "heavy" books lately, and I felt like I needed something light and easygoing. Some of the things that were over the top that stood out to me in Sex and Vanity was the $225,000 car Lucie's fiance gifted her, their luxurious mansion complete with its on Venetian gondola that went throughout the house. Um, what?! It had all of the over top wealth that I have come to expect from Kwan from the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. Speaking of Crazy Rich Asians, there is even a part where a "beautiful Asian woman named Astrid" makes an appearance, and Kitty is also mentioned at the very end. I thought it was sweet of Kwan to pay homage to those characters that I remember so well. This book also had footnotes, that gave more explanation about things he was describing. I read CRA a couple of years ago, and I can't remember if they had these same footnotes. At first, I thought they would be somewhat distracting, but as I got used to them, I continuously looked to them to get more information on the schools, labels, designers, etc. that Kwan mentioned. This was helpful and added to the overall entertaining factor of the book. Sex and Vanity is out on July 7, and it is the perfect summer read. I will post my feature in about a week, a little closer to its July pub date. Thank you to Doubleday and Netgalley for this e-ARC of one of my most anticipated novels of summer!
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  • Darla
    January 1, 1970
    Full disclosure: I have not read "A Room With a View," but I have read the Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy and I believe this new standalone from Kevin Kwan is as good or better than CRA. The dynamics of race and privilege are approached from sites in the Western Hemisphere giving new dimensions to explore. Lucie and George are both likable characters. The scene in which George recites the title of the book was hands down my favorite emotional moment. There were many other tongue in cheek moments alon Full disclosure: I have not read "A Room With a View," but I have read the Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy and I believe this new standalone from Kevin Kwan is as good or better than CRA. The dynamics of race and privilege are approached from sites in the Western Hemisphere giving new dimensions to explore. Lucie and George are both likable characters. The scene in which George recites the title of the book was hands down my favorite emotional moment. There were many other tongue in cheek moments along the way as well as jaw-dropping descriptions of events and locations (most in Capri). It felt like I went on vacation and watched a rom-com all in one. Thank you to Doubleday and Edelweiss for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Lisa Koivu
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the beginning of the book, in Capri, up until the time of the "incident." At that point, everything started going off the rails for me. The cousin's response to the "incident" seemed medieval. Then we pivot back to New York, and Cecil seems like a cartoon villain. I hope this isn't too much of a spoiler, but why would anyone put a canal, with a gondola, in their home in Manhattan? Granted, it was 5 townhomes put together, but is that feasible? Cecil's mom wasn't very fleshed out either a I loved the beginning of the book, in Capri, up until the time of the "incident." At that point, everything started going off the rails for me. The cousin's response to the "incident" seemed medieval. Then we pivot back to New York, and Cecil seems like a cartoon villain. I hope this isn't too much of a spoiler, but why would anyone put a canal, with a gondola, in their home in Manhattan? Granted, it was 5 townhomes put together, but is that feasible? Cecil's mom wasn't very fleshed out either and I kept waiting for her to become the supervillain.I found myself unable to root for Lucie for many reasons. She was boring, one-dimensional, and frustrating. I just didn't care about her.To be honest, my favorite parts of the book were the shootouts to characters from the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. I caught references to Astrid and Kitty Pong.I think Mr. Kwan's next book should be about Mrs. Zao and Marian's adventures together, as they were the most interesting characters in the book.**Thanks to NetGalley for the free preview copy.**
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  • Alyssa True
    January 1, 1970
    I received this as an ARC on NetGalley. I had deeply enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians and got a book hangover after spending the entire weekend staying in bed reading it. And as soon as I saw Kevin Kwan had another story about fabulously wealthy characters but with a biracial protagonist, I immediately added it to Goodreads. Kwan's narrator in this book is just as gossipy and catty, with footnotes fact-checking his characters. I never read A Room with a View so I can't say what this book would've been I received this as an ARC on NetGalley. I had deeply enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians and got a book hangover after spending the entire weekend staying in bed reading it. And as soon as I saw Kevin Kwan had another story about fabulously wealthy characters but with a biracial protagonist, I immediately added it to Goodreads. Kwan's narrator in this book is just as gossipy and catty, with footnotes fact-checking his characters. I never read A Room with a View so I can't say what this book would've been like if I knew the plot. After I read the Wikipedia article for the 1908 novel, I understood this was basically the plot of that book with updated devices and the addition of racial conflict. Rome is now Capri, London is New York, and Lucy/Lucie and George's kiss in Italy is much more intimate. I didn't read this in a weekend, but it was fun overall.
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  • Nina
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I found this book to be very disappointing. The first part, set on Capri, was mostly fun, but even there the problems that would persist throughout showed. Lucie, around whom the story revolves, was bizarrely naive and sheltered for a rich American city girl in college in 2013 and her companion/cousin Charlotte was likewise bizarrely fusty and prim. Eventually realizing that this is a modern retelling of "A Room With A View" didn' I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I found this book to be very disappointing. The first part, set on Capri, was mostly fun, but even there the problems that would persist throughout showed. Lucie, around whom the story revolves, was bizarrely naive and sheltered for a rich American city girl in college in 2013 and her companion/cousin Charlotte was likewise bizarrely fusty and prim. Eventually realizing that this is a modern retelling of "A Room With A View" didn't help, because Charlotte's concerns about proper behavior and decorum and Lucie's inexperience seem incredibly out of touch for 21st century women not raised in convents. All of the other characters are unlikable, except Lucie's mother Marian who appears late in the story and Mrs Zao, who is painted as flamboyant and embarrassing but clearly just has a good heart. If you're familiar with "A Room With A View" there are no surprises in the plot. If you're familiar with typical romance novel tropes, there are no surprises in the plot. If you're a fan of the over-the-top rich people nonsense from CRA, you'll enjoy the even more over-the-top rich people nonsense here. But if you're looking for a repeat of the fun of Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians series, look elsewhere.
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  • Shannon
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this - a really refreshing rom com full of Kwan’s trademark wit. I want the next instalment already!
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