Saturday, September 26, 2020

Not the Kind of Feminist Story That I Expected: Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho [Book Review]


Title: Last Tang Standing
Series: -
Author: Lauren Ho
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Adult Fiction, Asian Literature
Format: Ebook
Publication Date: June 1st 2020
Pages: 416

Synopsis (Goodreads): At thirty-three, Andrea Tang is living the dream: she has a successful career as a lawyer, a posh condo, and a clutch of fun-loving friends who are always in the know about Singapore's hottest clubs and restaurants. All she has to do is make partner at her law firm and she will have achieved everything she (and her mother) has ever worked for. So what if she's poised to be the last unmarried member of her generation of the Tang clan? She doesn't need a man to feel fulfilled, no matter what her meddling relatives have to say about it.

But for a dutiful Chinese-Malaysian daughter, the weight of familial expectations is hard to ignore. And so are the men life keeps throwing in Andrea's path. Men like Suresh Aditparan, her annoyingly attractive rival for partner and the last man she should be spending time with, and Eric Deng, a wealthy entrepreneur whose vision for their future is more lavish than she could have imagined. With her workplace competition growing ever more intense, her friends bringing dramas of their own to her door, and her family scrutinizing her every romantic prospect, Andrea finds herself stretched to the breaking point. And she can't help but wonder: In the endless tug-of-war between pleasing others and pleasing herself, is there room for everyone to win?


My rating: 4 / 5 ★

Quoting the synopsis of this book itself, "So what if she's poised to be the last unmarried member of her generation of the Tang clan? She doesn't need a man to feel fulfilled, no matter what her meddling relatives have to say about it." I was honestly expecting this book to be about a woman who fights to show that she doesn't need a man to have a good life. Well, it sort of did, but at the same time, it absolutely didn't.

Having a rather successful career as a lawyer, a posh condo to call her own, and great friends to have fun with, Andrea Tang's life would have been enough for her, had it not been for her meddling relatives that constantly pegged on her love life. When she found out that she might become the last woman in her clan to get married, a.k.a becoming the last Tang standing, it somehow became a mission for her to find a man to settle down in a marriage. And so this is where the hooking ups started.

Plotwise, I wouldn't say that Last Tang Standing has an amazing storyline that blew my mind, but it was still fun to go through. Being a woman myself, I know how it feels to be reduced to someone who needs to find a man in order to "have a good life", so seeing how Andrea had to suffer through that after breaking up with a long time boyfriend, constantly worrying about being embarrassed in front of her relatives for not being married yet just made me feel sorry for her.

I may be blessed to have parents that don't bother me about getting married, but I hate to acknowledge that Last Tang Standing actually depicts the reality of many women even to this day. A woman's worth should not be measured by a man, and though this book didn't actually end up becoming about that (not with the multiple love interests suddenly coming to Andrea's way), I do think that it still allows the topic to be discussed. We're definitely still far from getting a world where everyone can accept that women are enough on her own if she wants to, but I believe books like Last Tang Standing can help more of us to see that.

When it comes to characters, Last Tang Standing has quite a number of interesting ones. Although I don't fancy how the book turned out to be some kind of a love mission, I still loved Andrea Tang plenty. She's a very fun character, and I enjoyed her sassiness as well. She's able to stand on her own, and I like that there was certainly character growth as Andrea acknowledges her worth more and more as the story progressed. Her casual snarky remarks, especially the petty wars between her and Suresh, her colleague, were much joy to read too.

I think despite being the "last Tang standing", Andrea still ended up getting marvellous choices when it comes to her love interests. Eric Deng, a wealthy entrepreneur who caught her attention in one of the parties she went to was a real gentleman, much older than her, but would definitely lavish her life well enough to change her life completely. Suresh Aditparan, her attractive colleague and rival was like a forbidden fruit, but putting their rivalry aside, they were supportive of each other and actually admires one another's skills. Both Eric and Suresh have strengths and flaws that complement well with Andrea, and I honestly didn't know who to team up with, but over the course of the story, I think Andrea chose the right person for her in the end.

Overall, I would say that Last Tang Standing is a fun and a rather quick read. The fact that the story was written in a journal/diary style made it more intimate and I was able to relate myself with Andrea and understand her better. This book may not have been the kind of feminist story that I was looking for, but it is still a good story that shows a woman's strength and independence, written in a very enjoyable way. I'm actually excited to read Lauren Ho's future works!

Thank you to MPH Distributors and HarperCollins UK for the Netgalley copy of Last Tang Standing in exchange for my honest review. This book is available in all good bookstores.


Tears sprang, unbidden, to my beady, plebeian eyes. That so much beauty was possible in the heart of this stone-and-concrete city, that it should be owned by one person, while I paid almost half my salary and almost all my waking hours for not even a hundredth of this space—it hurt. How could this be what my life had become about?

Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'