In 5 Easy Steps by Lum Kit-Wye

A quick rundown… Elaine moves to Singapore after a failed relationship. In between work issues, hot young men and a missing maid, she’s got her hands full!

Strengths: Really funny in parts.

Weaknesses: You can predict the ending – but it’s still fun.

Why I read it: Looked really well thumbed through in {prologue} bookshop (Singapore), so I had to buy a copy!

Pages: 520

Published: 2009

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Setting: Malaysia and Singapore

Rating: 8.5 out of 10


I often think that there’s no better advertisement for a book than seeing a well-thumbed copy in a bookstore. It means that there’s a lot of people flicking and reading which in turn invites more people etc. etc. In 5 Easy Steps, was one obviously well-read copy in {prologue} bookstore at my favourite shopping centre in Singapore, ION Orchard. Its pink cover stood out from the shelves and a dog eared copy stood tantalisingly open. (Note that there are perfect copies for you to purchase should you so wish). I started to read and a couple of seconds later, started to laugh. I read a couple more pages and laughed again. So loud that my family was able to pinpoint exactly where I was in this rather large, two storey bookstore. So there was no choice. This book was coming home back to Australia with me.

Lum Kit-Wye won the Inaugural Asian Chic Writing Competition in 2009 with this book and it’s easy to see why. This is chick lit, but it’s very funny. In fact, I’d say she rivals the excellent Jessica Rudd in being able to tease a belly laugh from serious ol’ me. She has created a flawed, relatable yet still kind of cool heroine in Elaine. The text definitely has a Singaporean flavour to it (despite Elaine hailing from Malaysia) and there’s enough local places mentioned to feel nostalgic for those who know Singapore, yet it’s not full of the known tourist haunts like Orchard Road/Singapore Flyer/Marina Bay Sands. (Although I would love to read – and be involved in research – for a story about Orchard Road, in particular shopping). Elaine also eats some very deliciously described food, making my tummy rumble many times.

The plot of In 5 Easy Steps is multi-layered; involving Elaine’s tumultuous love life, new friends and a mysterious disappearance in the flat down the way. Elaine is quirky, yet never annoying. The title comes from the five steps Elaine takes from a magazine article to change her life. The overall ending you can probably spot, but it’s a lovely journey getting there. I also found it really interesting to read this genre set in Singapore rather than London/New York, as there’s different local quirks. (For example, how often do void decks and hawker centres rate a mention?) The book made me want to go back to Singapore again and have more tasty dishes on Clarke Quay. Lum Kit-Wye does really well in the scenes set there to evoke that warm and humid environment combined with the scents of delectable food wafting in between tourists, workers and the building.

I can’t wait to search the bookstores again to see if Lum Kit-Wye has a second book. She has a natural talent for fiction that left me with a memorable tale.


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