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Kevin Kwan’s latest characters are still crazy rich, but in his first novel outside of his international bestselling trilogy, his heroine, Lucie Tang Churchill, is torn between two identities embodied by her two suitors: the handsome Chinese Australian surfer George Zao, whom she meets, automatically hates and is caught making out with at an absurdly ritzy wedding; and Cecil Pike, the desirably high-society WASP she’s engaged to years later, when George appears again at a most unwelcome time. Distilled through Kwan’s sharp wit and modeled after E. M. Forster’s 1908 novel A Room With a View, Sex and Vanity pillories not Edwardian England but “billennials”—that is, billionaire millennials—as Lucie finds that while money can sure buy a ring “the size of a rhino’s testicle,” it can’t buy a sense of self.

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