I think the prologue really sets the tone for the book. From these first couple of pages, we see that Nick and his family are super-wealthy, and they aren't easily intimidated. They are also really close-knit, with cousins and aunts and uncles all living near each other. Wasn't it fascinating that Nick's mom faced embarrassing discrimination but was able to use her money to get the last laugh?
When a girl in the restaurant takes a picture of Nick and Rachel, it flies around the globe at a shocking speed. Wasn't that astonishing? I can't imagine living under that kind of scrutiny. I think the saddest part was that Rachel had no idea it was happening. I was frustrated that Nick didn't give her more of a clue about what she should expect by visiting his family. When he finally tells her about his family later in the section, she is hurt and becomes nervous about the trip. Do you blame her?
Since Nick is so secretive to Rachel about his family, it's not really surprising that he was equally cagey about Rachel to his family. Do you think Eleanor might have been more open to Rachel if she had heard about her from Nick, instead of learning about Rachel from her friends? What do you think of Eleanor and her circle? Do you think you would be brave enough to join their group?
It's interesting to see the contrast between generations in this first section. The older generation, like Eleanor and Alix, are more conservative, and in Alix's case, have been accused of being "cheap." The younger generation like Astrid and Eddie are more interested in spending money and having luxurious things. Astrid has quite the collection of jewels and couture clothes, doesn't she? Did you enjoy reading the chapter that explained her background and introduced her marriage? Even though Eddie and Astrid are both interested in nice things, they seem totally different from each other. How do they treat money differently?
This section ends before Rachel actually meets the family, but before the section ended, Rachel and her friend Peik Lin realize that Nick's family is "richer than God." How do you think this information will color the initial meeting between Rachel and Nick's family? Do you think they will all be kind to one another? Do you think Rachel will have any embarrassing faux pas?
The movie adaptation of this book is exciting and culturally significant because it is the first major Hollywood movie since 1993's The Joy Luck Club to feature an entirely Asian and Asian-American cast in a contemporary setting. If you want to learn more, watch the video clip below in which Henry Golding and Constance Wu, the lead actors in the movie, talk about themselves and the cast.
You can also check out this article in which Suyin Haynes, a Time editor explains why the movie was important to her.
I can't wait to hear what you thought about this first section. Please make sure to leave your thoughts and guesses about the plot in the comments section. And make sure you read the 18 chapters of part 2 for next week.