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The Truly Rich Lady on Crazy Rich Asians: Who is the Wealthiest of Them All?
Our resident Truly Rich Lady rates them for their Truly Rich Quotient.
ILLUSTRATOR Alysse Asilo
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Hello, crazy and maybe rich Asian people!

Amid the swirl of news surrounding the filming of Kevin Kwan’s 2013 sizzler Crazy Rich Asians, with our own drama queen Kris Aquino rumored to be part of the cast and several actors confirmed for roles, I finally read the book, simply because my niece couldn't stop talking about it over Sunday lunch.

I must say I could definitely relate to it.

So before you read Rich People Problems, the third book in the series that comes out later next month, here's a refresher on the characters from the first book, i.e. those who left an impression on me. Also—and I hope you find this helpful—I have rated each for his or her Truly Rich Quotient using the highly scientific and just grading system that is called my personal opinion. Let us begin.

NICHOLAS YOUNG

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Nick Young to be played by Henry Golding

Hush Money: He downplays his incredible wealth, which only proves that his family’s money is of the oldest kind. See this passage: “He was always comfortable fading into the background... This was a boy who had grown up in a place like Tyersall Park. Everything else in the world paled by comparison.” I approve. +5

Swoon: The number one bachelor in Asia has “perfectly tousled black hair, chiseled Cantonese pop-idol features and impossibly thick eyelashes.” Also he’s some sort of scholar. And speaks with a posh English accent. +3

Cardboard Prince: Barring his little rebellion (choosing the peasant Rachel), Nick always does the right things, which makes him boring. -2

Truly Rich Score: 6

SHANG SU YI

Keys to the Kingdom: Nick's beyond-wealthy grandmother is lady of the mythical Tyersall Park, which according to my sleuthing (asking a millennial with access to Google) may have been based on a real place in Singapore. She also rolls around with a pair of Thai lady’s maids, a gift from the King of Thailand. Meanwhile, I have to do with just one assistant, who is not a gift. +10

Old Family Values: Says Su Yi, Rachel is an unsuitable match for darling Nick because she simply “does not come from a proper family.” Ouch. -3

Truly Rich Score: 7

 

OLIVER T’SIEN

Good to Know: Cassandra Shang may be known as Radio One Asia, but Oliver is the one who knows who’s who and what’s what in the entangled families of the T’siens, Shangs, and Youngs. +2

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Plummiest Accent: Quite literally, this is speaking as if there is a plum in your mouth. The larger the plum, the richer you sound (though Oliver is not the richest in this story). +2

Truly Rich Score: 4


RACHEL CHU

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Rachel Chu to be played by Constance Wu

Literary Proxy: I sort of have a connection with Rachel because she helps me imagine what it feels like to be from a regular family with hardscrabble roots instead of an ancient family with murky ties to royalty. In this fish-out-of-water story, she is my eyes, ears, hands, and badly dressed body. +3

Is Also Boring: The fact that I can only appreciate her as a device that connects myself to the universe of this book underscores this assessment. But being beige is never a bad thing, or a good thing, or whatever. -1

Truly Rich Score: 2

 

ASTRID LEONG

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Astrid Leong to be played by Gemma Chan

Cool Girl: Observe: “...through the confluence of her particular circumstances—a substantial private income, overindulgent parents, and her own savoir-faire—every move she made became breathlessly talked about and scrutinized within that claustrophobic circle.” This is how I want my obit to read. +4

Unhappy In Love: I shouldn’t find glee in the misery of others, but Astrid’s crumbling relationship with her husband Michael is like the mole hair I spy on the face of my Truly Rich Best Friend. It makes her more interesting—in fact, even more interesting than Rachel and Nick. +3

Truly Rich Score: 7

 

GOH PEIK LIN

Truly Best Friend: She helps dowdy Rachel navigate the Crazy Rich world in the best possible way: by giving her a wardrobe of designer clothes. +3

Golden Girl: The magpie in me would like to visit her home, a facsimile of Versailles’ Petit Trianon with a vaulted ceiling of gold leaf, a baroque console of gilt gold, and Venetian mirrors and candelabras also of gold. +1

Truly Rich Score: 4

CHARLIE WU

Still In Love With Ex: Charlie does his darnedest to help ex-fiancee Astrid and her husband Michael get back together. So romantic and dumb. +2

Truly Rich Score: 2

EDISON CHENG

Chip on His Shoulder: He goes to great lengths to prove that he belongs in the innermost circle of the Crazy Rich World by obnoxiously showing off his wealth. -10

Can Relate: When he couldn’t fit into his custom tuxedo because he had gained weight! I know the feeling! +1

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Truly Rich Score: -9

ARAMINTA LEE

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Araminta Lee to be played by Sonoya Mizuno

High Times: Never mind about her most-talked about wedding in Asia. She has a private plane with an Ayurvedic yoga studio. +2

Truly Rich Score: 2

 

KITTY PONG

Upwardly Mobile: The soap opera actress has been derided as a gold digger (and mistaken for a porn star from Crouch My Tiger, Hide Your Dragon II), but I am never one to look down on anyone who strives to move up, because what they do is entertaining. It’s like watching someone trip and fall. + 1

Truly Rich Score: 1

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C.C. Coo
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