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Sex and Vanity
Cover of Sex and Vanity
Sex and Vanity
A Novel
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A Good Morning America Book Club Pick"Kevin Kwan's new book is his most decadent yet." —Entertainment Weekly The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A Good Morning America Book Club Pick"Kevin Kwan's new book is his most decadent yet." —Entertainment Weekly The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich...
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  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A Good Morning America Book Club Pick
    "Kevin Kwan's new book is his most decadent yet." —Entertainment Weekly
    The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians returns with the glittering tale of a young woman who finds herself torn between two men: the WASPY fiancé of her family's dreams and George Zao, the 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 a view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can't stand that he knows more about Casa 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. The daughter of an American-born Chinese mother and a 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, Lucie is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment building, 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.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the cover VII

    Arco Naturale
    Capri, Italy


    George found Lucie sitting on a stone bench, staring out at the Arco Naturale, a gigantic natural limestone arch that rose out of the mountainside 650 feet above the sea.

    "Are you all right?" he asked.

    Lucie fixed her eyes out on the view, purposely not looking at him. She knew there were bloodstains on his shirt, and she couldn't bear to see them. "How did you know I was here?"

    "I didn't. After leaving the piazzetta, I just felt like coming here." Lucie could feel her jaw tighten. Why was he always showing up where she least wanted him to be? She got up from the bench and leaned against the green iron fence that faced the sea, hoping he would get the message.

    George inhaled, as if about to say something.

    "Please . . . don't speak! Please don't tell me what happened to that man. I don't want to know," Lucie blurted in a choked voice.


    George walked up to the fence and stood near her. Just beyond the fence, the arch towered over them, rising so unexpectedly and improbably out of the cliff it looked like it could have been placed there by aliens. Through the arch was a perfect view of the sea hundreds of feet below, the water glowing in lustrous shades of aqua-marine.

    They took in the otherworldly view in silence, and after a while, George spoke. "The first time I came here, when I was about twelve, I was so blown away by the sight of this arch that I thought it had to be a vortex. Like maybe some sort of gateway to a parallel universe. I wanted to leap through the arch and be transported somewhere else in time."

    "I wouldn't mind being somewhere else in time right about now," Lucie said numbly.

    "Follow me." George moved suddenly, and Lucie thought for a second that he was actually going to hop over the fence. Instead, he began heading toward the trail that led down the mountainside. She debated whether she wanted to follow him and then thought, What the hell.

    Lucie walked a few paces behind George as they headed along a steep paved trail and then down a long set of steps that wound along the thickly forested part of the island.

    "Pablo Neruda would hike this trail every day when he lived on the island," George said.

    Lucie said nothing, but she was surprised by this bit of trivia coming from George. He didn't seem like the type to read poetry. At the bottom of the steps, they rounded a corner and she found herself standing at the mouth of a cavern. She realized with an unexpected jolt that they were at the Grotta di Matermania. It was one of the places she had put on her must- see list— a natural cavern that was one of the most ancient archaeological treasures of the island.

    "You wanted to go somewhere back in time, so here we are," George said.

    Lucie wandered into the cavern, where walls and stairways had been carved out of the limestone to create different levels and spaces within. This was once a nymphaeum for the ancient Romans, she thought, placing her hand against the cavern walls, strangely warm to the touch, and wondering what mystical rituals these ruins must have witnessed through the ages. She could feel a strange energy pulsating throughout the cave, the same energy she felt when she had visited other ancient sites like Stonehenge and the Mayan tem-ples at Tulum.

    At the back of the cavern rose a natural formation that resembled an altar, no doubt the focal point of ceremonies when the cavern was itself a temple. Lucie climbed up to stand in front of the altar and closed her eyes. She wasn't religious by any means— her mother's family was Buddhist and her father's was nominally...

About the Author-

  • KEVIN KWAN is the author of the international bestsellers Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, and Rich People Problems. Crazy Rich Asians was a #1 New York Times bestseller, a major motion picture, and has been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives in Los Angeles and is trying to eat less pasta.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 18, 2020
    Kwan follows up his Crazy Rich Asians trilogy with an intoxicating, breezy update of E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View. Lucie Tang Churchill, 19, a privileged “hapa” (she is half Chinese, half WASP) attends her richer friend Isabel’s wedding in Capri. After Lucie meets Isabel’s cousin George Zao, a rich, handsome, Chinese-Australian surfer, she becomes a “bundle of conflicting emotions,” repulsed by her attraction to the “brooding weirdo took himself much too seriously.” Still, they hook up, at risk of jeopardizing Lucie’s reputation as an eligible bride. Four years later, Lucie and George’s paths cross in New York, only now Lucie is engaged to Cecil Pike. However, Lucy can’t get George out of her mind, and she is flummoxed by his kindness. When Lucy, George, and Cecil attend a film screening featuring a sex scene that reminds her of what she did with George in Capri, Lucie doubles down on suppressing her true desires. Kwan exploits the Forster frame for clever references—including Merchant and Ivory—and provides amusing footnotes. Kwan also relishes describing lavish meals and haute couture clothing, as well as Isabel’s decadent wedding and Cecil’s imaginative, over-the-top proposal. There are moments both catty and witty, but this delectable comedy of manners—the literary equivalent of white truffle and caviar pizza—is still pizza.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Lydia Look enchants in this contemporary adaptation of A ROOM WITH A VIEW. When Lucie meets George at a fabulously extravagant wedding on Capri, sparks fly, despite her better judgment. Years later, Lucie must decide between her head and her heart when George re-enters her life. As with CRAZY RICH ASIANS, this audiobook's entertainment is in its over-the-top characters and lavish descriptions, including the witty footnotes. Look delivers a dramatic performance that keeps the energy high and the dialogue extravagant. Against the backdrop of outrageous characters, Look's skilled interpretation of Lucie's sweet nature and George's reserve makes them the charming center of nonstop parties and fashion moments. Listeners fond of Kwan's previous series will not be disappointed. N.M. � AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine

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