Astrid attends the très très fancy party (ahem, Le Bal du Muguet) in Paris.
Her friend Nathalie, daughter of the banking royals hosting the gig, compliments her unconventional linen dress as something only she could pull off at a fancy event, then realizes it's an original fancy schmancy designer whose stuff is on display at the Musée Galliera.
Nathalie discloses the strategic seating arrangements that keep her angry husband away from her and instead seated next to Astrid, who has a yummy actor sitting on the other side of her.
Disappointed to hear that Astrid is leaving Paris, Nathalie asks if it must be tomorrow. Astrid responds that her son may forget her if she's gone one more day.
As she walks through a receiving line, Astrid greets Nathalie's mom, who introduces her to the Baronne de la Durée. Color the Baronne unimpressed.
After Astrid walks away the Baronne comments she saw Astrid's necklace at a premier French jeweler and asks who Astrid "belongs to" (1.5.11). Yuck.
Isabelle, Nathalie's mom, explains Astrid is no kept woman and says Astrid's family is one of her husband's largest clients.
Her husband, Laurent de L'Herme-Pierre says Astrid "only exists to feed obsession" (1.5.21) Yuck again.
The Baronne asks how the Chinese have so much money, since they were "all penniless Communists in drab little Mao uniforms not too long ago" (1.5.22). Colorful description, lady.
Laurent provides helpful historical context for the difference between the Mainland and Overseas Chinese. Let's get into that a little here:
The Mainland Chinese have made their fortune in the last decade like the Russians.
However, the Overseas Chinese left China before the Communists took hold, in some cases hundreds of years sooner. They've spread through Asia, amassing huge fortunes over time. Then he proceeds to name drop those who run commerce in Southeast Asian countries, including the Leongs (Astrid's people).
Isabelle drops that Astrid's family is "staggeringly rich" and Astrid has even more to inherit from her mother's side of the family (1.5.24).
Now colored impressed, the Baronne approaches Astrid and compliments her necklace, then asks if Astrid would be willing to give her granddaughter advice on a trip to Asia.
The quick about-face isn't lost on Astrid. She's disappointed people recognize her in Paris, once her anonymous refuge.
We're told Astrid isn't a conventional beauty, but is "inexplicably alluring" (1.5.33). She has frequently been stopped by modeling scouts, but her mother insisted that modeling for money was beneath her (so modeling for free is still on the table?).
Astrid was "born into the uppermost echelon of Asian wealth" (1.5.34). How, you say?
Well, her father is from the Penang Leongs that monopolize the palm oil industry.
Her mother is the eldest of Sir James Young and "the even more imperial Shang Su Yi" (1.5.34) What does that even mean?
We're left with a cliffhanger: Astrid doesn't know "how extraordinary life was about to become" (1.5.35).