Nick, Astrid, and their families walk into a hotel, soaking wet from the rain, just arrived from Singapore.
When Nick's mom tries to check the soggy people into their hotel, they're thwarted by a rather bigoted snob named Reginald Ormsby.
Ormbsy is surprised that the Youngs are Chinese since they've booked the fancy Lancaster Suite, but he lies that he cannot find their reservation.
The women—Eleanor, Felicity, and Alexandra—press Ormsby for details about the missing reservation; he slips up and mentions their suite by name. Felicity snags the reservation books, discovers their reservation and drops some names to get him to hand the keys.
He refuses, says no room at the inn, and suggests they find a hotel "someplace in Chinatown." (P.24). We are not fans of Mr. Ormsby.
Eleanor silently blames the situation on her "dowdy" looking sisters-in-law (P.33).
The children—Eddie, Astrid, and Nick—kill time in the hotel lobby. Eddie charges a soda to the room and bosses around his cousins as the chairman of their pretend business.
Eddie knocks his Coke out of Nick's hand (which he made him hold) then blames Nick.
Ormsby tells the family they need to leave the premises.
The family huddles under an awning in the rain while Felicity hunkers in a phone booth to call other hotels.
Nick suggests sleeping under a tree in Hyde Park. Astrid agrees, recalling a night she and Nick slept under the stars at their grandma's.
Eddie, on the other says, says he prefers the royal suite with caviar and champagne. Who is this kid?
Eddie's mom Alexandra silently laments Eddie's behavior and notes she's glad he's away from the influence of his friend Leo Ming.
Felicity's husband Harry is furious when she tells him what has happened with a classic "Did you tell them who we are?" (P.62).
After discussing that all the VIP hotels are booked up for Commonwealth Day and cousin Leonard is off grouse hunting in Surrey (who are these people?), Harry says he'll call the hotel owner, who he met at a golf outing in California.
And suddenly the children are entering the hotel lobby again. Nick, Astrid, and Eddie walk to the bar to get themselves a drink.
Pompous Ormsby hustles to intercept the kids when the owner of the hotel, THE Lord Rupert Calthorpe-Cavendish-Gore (say that three times fast) walks in with Eleanor, Felicity, and Alexandra at his side.
Note to the reader: Calthorpe hadn't been in this hotel for years. We've got a big deal going on here.
To our delight, Calthorpe calls Ormsby "Wormsby" and tells him a few important things: 1) prepare the rooms for the ladies and their children; 2) he no longer owns the hotel; and 3) may he present the new owner: Felicity Leong.
Insert Ormsby jaw-drop here.
Calthorpe is excited to accept Harry Leong's offer so he can focus on "bonefishing in Eleuthera" and takes the women for a toast at the bar (P.86).
Felicity drops the mic when she tells Ormsby she needs him to "leave the premises" (P.90).
Part 1, Chapter 1
Nick and Rachel — New York, 2010
Nick invites Rachel to come with him to Asia for the summer…and a wedding. Rachel is unsure, saying she doesn't want to be a "distraction" (1.1.3).
If she goes, Rachel asks Nick to show her the highlights of his childhood, including the "sacred cave" where Nick lost his virginity. Oh, my.
An added bonus: Rachel's college bestie, Peik Lin, lives in Singapore and she's been hounding Rachel to visit for years.
Nick tells Rachel about Singapore's food obsession (yeah, us, too), including his Ah Ma's scones (note: Ah Ma means grandma). But wait, she doesn't make them herself?
While Nick and Rachel plot their Asian excursions, a girl in the café—Celine—overhears them. She recognizes Nick from a time she had seen him at the Palau Club in Singapore with her mom and sister.
Mini flashback to Celine, her sister Charlotte, and her mom talking about Nick's smoking good looks, his good education, and his good prospects as a husband. Mom encourages Charlotte to snatch him up. Yeah, he sounds promising!
Celine describes Nick as "dreamy" and a standout from other guys (1.1.21).
Charlotte misses her chance to invite Nick to her fundraiser — he never shows and her mom is forever disappointed.
Snapback to present: Celine "takes a photo" of her friend but is really taking a photo of Nick and Rachel (look, we've all done this). She quickly emails it to her sister in California.
Enter a text exchange between Charlotte and Celine to determine who on earth that girl in the photo is, whether there's a ring, and a commitment to more spying.
Nick continues to convince Rachel to go to Asia, but she's still reluctant about the amount of time away, though she's intrigued about exploring more of Asia. (It's cool, she's been to China before).
Cut away to Rachel's internal monologue: What does this trip really mean? Going to a wedding together? Meeting his family? Ten weeks on the road? Does she hear wedding bells?
We learn in Rachel's culture she's deep in "old-maid territory" at age 29 (1.1.30). But kudos to Rachel; she's been more focused on her career.
Not so fast, though. This invite from Nick seems to awaken the romantic side of Rachel.
After all that, Rachel agrees to go: Whee!
Within minutes, this conversation has already made it around the world. And let the name-dropping of unknown people commence:
Celine in NYC tells her sister Charlotte in CA.
Charlotte tells her bestie Daphne in Singapore.
Daphne tells eight of her friends, including Carmen in Shanghai.
Carmen tells her cousin Amelia who went to Oxford with Nick.
Amelia tells Justina in Hong Kong.
Justina walks across the hall to tell Roderick.
Roderick skypes his girlfriend Lauren who's vacationing in Marrakech.
Lauren tells her grandmother and aunt Patsy who are in Marrakech with her.
Aunt Patsy calls Jacqueline Ling in London.
Jacqueline Ling tells Cassandra Shang, Nick's second cousin, and also known as Radio One Asia for the extensive reach of her gossip channels.