If the path of true love never runs smoothly, in White Ivy it is a rickety old bridge with missing steps thousands of feet over a dusty canyon. Yang is excellent at pacing and surprises, which leave the reader guessing and conflicted when it comes to the romantic decision-making. This is Austen mixed with the hyperreal sharpness of Donna Tartt. Yang was born in China and moved to the United States as a child. She has an interesting backstory, coming to writing after a number of other fields, including a doctorate of pharmacy from Rutgers University and a tech start-up in San Francisco that has taught 20,000 people how to code.
Still, it’s sordid and fun, with plenty of descriptions of rich-person interiors and meals and clothes. Yang’s reflections on the psychology of wealth are interesting; such as the quality of “natural ownership” Ivy identifies in the way Gideon speaks, or, repulsed by new money, her vow to “always carry my wealth on my body, not in my wallet”. The book crescendos into a satisfyingly soapy ending; but, ultimately, this long-winded novel leaves you wanting more.