PLOT: 4/5

“Most Chinese parents, no matter where they are in the world, want their kids to bring home a mate of: 1. Chinese ethnicity (trade-offs are tolerated in some families, but rare – however, likelihood of acceptance increases inversely the longer the errant offspring in question remains single).

 2. High earning capacity and/or wealth: MD or similar (Lawyer, Investment Banker, Consultant). Otherwise, being rich and successful entrepreneur is also acceptable; legit royalty is, of course welcome.”

Lauren Ho, Last Tang Standing

My musings

When I think about chick-lit reads, some books that immediately come to my mind are Anuja Chauhan’s Baaz, Christina Lauren’s The Unhoneymooners, and Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians. My latest read – Lauren Ho’s Last Tang Standing can be thought of as an eclectic mix of a watered-down Crazy Rich Asians and The Hating Game. 

Read on to know more about the book and about my experience of reading it. 

What to expect?

Expect a book that has fun, sass, and a generous dose of family drama. Expect a book that is as much about love and friendships as it is about discovering oneself. Expect a fast-paced read that provides good entertainment value. Expect a book set in South East Asia, with many cultural and contemporary references to the countries of Malaysia, China, and Singapore.

Who can read?

The book is written in an easy language but the setting and the new woke English might prove a little challenging to some readers. However, this is only applicable to a few readers who are just beginning to read English novels. 

The story as it goes

Andrea Tang is a thirty-three-year-old Chinese-Malaysian woman who has a seemingly perfect life. She has an enviable job as a lawyer in a reputed law firm. She lives in a posh condo that is cozy and comfortable and has a string of friends who are always updated when it comes to the season’s buzziest hangouts. 

But then, Andrea has one big problem. You see, she is the Last Tang Standing when it comes to the marriage market. Until now, she and her mom always thought that she had time, but now when her last elder cousin is all set to tie the knot, Andrea’s world has been turned upside down.

Amidst the gradually increasing pressure from her mom, never-ending questions of nosy aunties, ever-piling burden at work, and tough competition from a rival colleague, Andrea currently has too much on her plate.

Her social life has become non-existent and her love life is practically dead, but when fate somehow manages to send not one but two men her way – she is torn between the classy, suave, and ultra-rich corporate mogul Eric Deng, and her strikingly attractive rival at work, Suresh Aditparan.

What did I like?

I love just how vibrant the book is. It is interesting to read about a Chinese woman in Singapore. Andrea goes through the trials and tribulations of a modern woman navigating a career and nosy aunties while trying to find love in a sea of humanity. I love how the book is witty and emotional at the same time.

The trope of an office romance that is essentially a hate-to-love relationship is also quite interesting and works well for the book.

What could have been better?

The very first lines of the book suggest that it is a mix of Crazy Rich Asians and Bridget Jones’s Diary. However, I believe that it sets the reader’s expectations too high. It is in fact, a much-watered-down version of the former. It is a great entertainer all by itself but has been unfairly benchmarked to the mega phenomenon that was Crazy Rich Asians.

Let’s talk about the writing style

The book is very relatable even from an Indian’s point of view. In Suresh, we see a character who is inherently Indian and faces the issues that any Indian adult would face with their family. We also see just how similar (read nosy and interfering) Indian and Chinese families can be when it comes to the life choices of their children. 

The book also reflects the typical challenges of a modern career woman. It talks about how life is a constant struggle; a race against time for a) having a great and ambitious career, and b) settling down with a man and raising children. If everything doesn’t happen within the stipulated and socially-acceptable time frame, you are doomed.

Is the climax good?

The climax is part predictable but that can be expected from a romantic chick-lit like this one. It does bring a decent conclusion to the story of Andrea and in the end, that is what matters the most.

It all comes down to entertainment

The book serves entertainment in generous doses. For me, there was never a dull moment in all its four hundred-plus pages.

In the end

In the end, The Last Tang Standing is a relatable, fun, sassy, and witty read. It is essentially a cozy comfortable feel-good read that brings to you an ideal mix of romance, drama, and humour.

Final verdict

Go for it!

Pick the book if

Skip the book if

  • If you have your expectations set too high (I mean exactly Crazy Rich Asians, or better).
  • If you don’t like chick-lit novels.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Last Tang Standing using the link below.