Cover image for The majesties : a novel
Title:
The majesties : a novel
Uniform Title:
Under your wings
ISBN:
9781982115500

9781982115517
Edition:
1st Atria Books hardcover ed.
Physical Description:
255 pages ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Originally published in Australia in 2018 by Penguin Random House Australia as Under your wings.
Summary:
Gwendolyn and Estella have always been as close as sisters can be. Growing up in a wealthy, eminent, and sometimes deceitful family, they've relied on each other for support and confidence. But now Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor of Estella's poisoning of their whole clan. As Gwendolyn struggles to regain consciousness, she desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to this shocking and brutal act. Was it their aunt's mysterious death at sea? Estella's unhappy marriage to a dangerously brutish man? Or were the shifting loyalties and unspoken resentments at the heart of their opulent world too much to bear? Can Gwendolyn, at last, confront the carefully buried mysteries in their family's past and the truth about who she and her sister really are? --
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Summary

Summary

Named one of the most anticipated books of the year by The Millions, CrimeReads , HelloGiggles , and The EveryGirl

"A dark, delicious tale that will creep its way into your brain and leave you examining your own soul for signs of moral rot. I downed it in one greedy shot." --Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. the World

"Tiffany Tsao's visceral debut...reads a bit like Crazy Rich Asians if the book began with familicide instead of romance...Why not start off the new year with the perfect tear-it-all-down read?" -- CrimeReads

In this riveting tale about the secrets and betrayals that can accompany exorbitant wealth, two sisters from a Chinese-Indonesian family grapple with the past after one of them poisons their entire family.

Gwendolyn and Estella have always been as close as sisters can be. Growing up in a wealthy, eminent, and sometimes deceitful family, they've relied on each other for support and confidence. But now Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor of Estella's poisoning of their whole clan.

As Gwendolyn struggles to regain consciousness, she desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to this shocking and brutal act. Was it their aunt's mysterious death at sea? Estella's unhappy marriage to a dangerously brutish man? Or were the shifting loyalties and unspoken resentments at the heart of their opulent world too much to bear? Can Gwendolyn, at last, confront the carefully buried mysteries in their family's past and the truth about who she and her sister really are?

Traveling from the luxurious world of the rich and powerful in Indonesia to the most spectacular shows at Paris Fashion Week, from the sunny coasts of California to the melting pot of Melbourne's university scene, The Majesties is a haunting and deeply evocative novel about the dark secrets that can build a family empire--and also bring it crashing down.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Tsao (The Oddfits) cannily pulls back the gilded surface from a wealthy Indonesian family, revealing a rotten core. The novel opens in the aftermath of an extravagant birthday party for the Sulinado family patriarch, during which a young woman, Estella, has poisoned her entire extended family. The only survivor, Estella's sister Gwendolyn, narrates the events leading up to the mass murder from her hospital bed, where she lies in a comatose state. These include the disastrous devolution of Estella's brief marriage, as well as the sisters' recent attempts to reconnect in the U.S. with a fun-loving aunt whom they had believed, until recently, to be dead. The sisters share a close bond, though each successive revelation about how their morally corrupt family intervened in these personal affairs drives a wedge further between them. The plot takes a while to hit its stride, but once it does, the narrative unfolds in a manner that's both suspenseful and creepily claustrophobic. The novel also prompts readers to consider the cultural relativism of stereotypes, contrasting outsider perceptions of those with Chinese heritage in both Indonesia and the U.S. Tsao depicts a family whose fabulous wealth and privilege not only blind them to the needs of others but also engender cruelty and self-destruction. This is a bold and dramatic portrayal of characters on the cusp of an impossible choice between complicit self-preservation and total annihilation. (Jan.)


Kirkus Review

A sobering look at the dark side of extreme wealth among Chinese families in Indonesia.Tsao's (The More Known World, 2017, etc.) novel begins in the aftermath of a crime as the narrator, Doll, tries to understand what has caused her sister, Estella, to poison everyone in their rich, extended Chinese Indonesian family. At first the novel takes a Crazy Rich Asians-esque satirical tone celebrating the Sulinado family's wealth, power, and, above all, material possessions as Doll recalls a life of great privilege. However, after Doll and Estella move from Jakarta to Berkeley, California, to attend college, the tone deepens. The middle part of the novel becomes a sly study of the stereotypes of Asians and Asian Americans that the sisters face for the first time as minorities in the United States. Still the sisters are able to enjoy their relative freedom and come to study entomology, which later becomes the inspiration for business success for Doll. Meantime, Estella starts dating another rich overseas Chinese Indonesian student, a quiet young man named Leonard Angsono, whose possessiveness is at first charming. By the time Estella realizes that Leonard's insecurity and need to control her are dangerous, she is so invested in the relationship that she doesn't know how to save herself. Tsao's writing shines when she depicts the ways that the two wealthy families choose to ignore domestic abuse in their midst, revealing the misogyny at the heart of the patriarchal clans. As Doll recalls, "A marriage alliance with the Angsonos would benefit our fortunes. It would pave the way for joint ventures and favorable partnerships with Leonard's clan...." As the novel races toward its violent denouement, the tone changes again, however, and veers back into broad satire. Tsao was born in California but lived in Singapore and Indonesia in her childhood.Readers may be thrown by the abrupt shifts in tone, but Tsao's depiction of domestic abuse is powerful. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Moving blithely around the globe, with long stops in Indonesia, Paris, and California, this psychological horror tale from Tsao, author of The Oddfits fantasy series, begins with a mass murder and then works backward to explore the family that gave birth to the crime. As the novel begins, narrator Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the only survivor of a birthday party for her grandfather during which her sister Estella poisoned the shark's fin soup, leaving three hundred people dead. The novel sometimes slides tentatively into fantasy, as in the descriptions of jewelry Gwendolyn manufactures from infected, living insects, and the tale's thriller elements and twisty ending might strike some readers as tacked onto a more conventional story rather than organically part of it. Still, Tsao deftly juggles a large cast of characters, and her thorough examination of the life of a wealthy Chinese-Indonesian family, as well as her insights into the false assumptions those in the Chinese, Indonesian, and Western communities make about its members, are intelligent and lively.--Margaret Quamme Copyright 2019 Booklist