Last Tang Standing is a romantic comedy following the story of Andrea Tang, hot-shot lawyer, aspiring author, and the last single cousin. Andrea is a Chinese-Malaysian lawyer living in Singapore in the final stretch to becoming a partner at her firm when her new office-mate Suresh comes to seemingly ruin it all. The story begins when Andrea attends another family event single and must falsify a relationship to avoid embarrassment or disappointment. Having focussed on her career, her most recent relationship has ended.
Ho sets out in the opening chapter the importance of family to this book, Andrea often finds herself making choices based on what she believes will be most acceptable by her family’s standards, no matter how unreasonable these can be. One such choice is her relationship with THE Eric Deng. Although their relationship begins organically by laughing at the super-rich and their eccentricities, despite Eric being the super-rich in question. As their relationship develops, it becomes clear that Andrea is with him as much because she loves him as she knows that he is infinitely impressive and therefore is the ‘right’ choice. However, Andrea’s character development is truly squeal worthy. Where she begins working extreme overtime and challenging her colleagues in who can bill the most hours, at the end of the book she finally leaves a toxic work environment and moves into a career she truly cares for. However, Ho ensures that Andrea does not change her fundamental character traits, as we see her sneaking phone time even in a detox from technology retreat.
One of my favourite characters is of course Suresh, the work-rival turned love-interest. From the moment he arrives in the story I was excited for them to get together. He is endlessly patient with Andrea even when she is winding him up and trying to outdo him to the partner position. Suresh is (mostly) the dream man, kind, caring, and gives up his beautiful wife for you. I also loved his passion. Outside of being a lawyer, Suresh is a comic creator and eventually leaves his high paying corporate job to follow his dream and takes the risk with his comic. This for me was a really significant moment in the book as it triggers Andrea to realise that she wants to do something more with her life than work in corporate law.
Something I really loved about this book was that ultimately it was happy. Which is something I think is being lost in lots of books that are popular at the moment. There are moments where Andrea is struggling, such as after her relationship with Orson fails, when she thinks that Suresh has left forever to go to America, and of course when her mother is in hospital. But these are resolved with love and family at their core. Last Tang Standing is a book where you pick it up because you are almost certain you know how it will end, a happy relationship and a rivals-to-lovers trope. But this didn’t make the book any less enjoyable! I even thought I might be totally wrong and that Eric Deng was going to be the real love-interest. I was pleasantly surprised that Suresh and Andrea only got together in the final few pages, but it felt totally right.
This book was raucously funny, being written in the form of digital diary entries by a narrator with occasionally unreliable spelling and emotions. If you were a fan of The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, then this is definitely up your alley.
I am sure that there were some cultural and generational nuances that I missed and went right over my head as a white gen-z from the U.K; but despite this I still enjoyed every moment of this book. Ho makes it very accessible by including footnotes for acronyms, regional phrases and words, and even locations to let readers know the importance of these.