This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

White Ghost Girls by Alice Greenway

White Ghost Girls

by Alice Greenway

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
295857,922 (3.41)31



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 31 mentions

English (7)  German (1)  All languages (8)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Good but slight ( )
  ltfitch1 | Jun 5, 2016 |
Nostalgia. Before you fall into the rhythm of wistful recollection, you really have to give your readers something to reference back to as a touchstone. Starting with the dolorousness, insisting that the foreshadowed heartbreak is already palpable—that feels artificial. The protagonist's projected nostalgia onto her father's beloved place—Saigon during the Vietnam War, which she has never seen in the way that I have never seen the villages outside of Hong Kong—at least parallels this weird obsession-for-something-unseen. Sweaty and threatening female adolescence. Strong autobiographical bent.

More a series of vignettes than a novel. ( )
  lyzadanger | Sep 16, 2013 |
What struck me most about this novel is, that it's so very sad.
Usually I can handle sad, but for some odd reason I found it very hard in this book.
I loved the descriptions of the scenery, the country, the way a potret was made of all characters, big and small. But I'm very happy I'm done with this book! ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Mar 31, 2013 |
Very engrossing story: This is a short book that can be read in a day or two. It is very well written with an interesting setting and plot line. You can see, hear and smell the authors description of Hong Kong, and the references to Viet Nam during the war are very haunting. This book would make a good gift.
  lonepalm | Dec 8, 2011 |
It was c1967, the Vietnam War was raging and the unrest caused by Mao’s Cultural Revolution was creeping across the boarder into Hong Kong. This was the summer that Kate turned 13, and her life changed forever.

Her father was away for weeks at a time, photographing the horrors of the Vietnam War for Time magazine, and even when he was home his thoughts were back in ‘Nam. Her mother lives in a naïve, idealistic utopia which exists nowhere except in her mind and her art as she waits for her absent husband to return. Kate and her older sister Frankie are left to run wild. Only their amah Ah Bing looks out for them, in her own gruff, foul-mouthed way.

Kate is our narrator, and that fateful summer was filled with swimming, trips to Ah Bing’s temple, floating in sampans, picnicking on the shores of unspoilt bays and discovering boys for the first time. But the fun of this summer is slowly leached away as Frankie’s need for love and attention starts to create resentment in Kate and drives a wedge between the close sisters. Kate’s eyes are opened to her sister’s behaviour following the ‘Lychee Incident’ involving Communist protesters after which Frankie ignored her sister’s discomfort and fear, and at the same time refused Kate the comfort of confiding in her parents with her attention stealing ways.

In her bid for any attention from her disengaged parents, Frankie’s behaviour becomes increasingly reckless and self destructive as Kate, thinking to protect her sister, keeps her secrets, unintentionally denying Frankie the attention she craves – even if that attention is a well earned telling off. Frankie’s behaviour forces Kate to observe the dysfunctional dynamics in her family’s relationships.

When eventually Frankie’s selfishness has disastrous consequences Kate is robbed of her sister, their father of his passion for photography and Vietnam and their mother of her idealism. All of them lost the Hong Kong home that they loved.

Greenway’s prose is beautiful and dreamy, but understated. A number of traumatic events occur that summer, but the very short chapters mean the descriptions of events are brief and creates the sense of distance, as Kate remembers this long ago summer, any lingering horror is diluted by time.
This is Greenway’s debut novel, and it was deservedly long listed for the Orange Prize. White Ghost Girls is a haunting coming of age story, where the need for love destroyed a vibrant young life, and completely altered the lives of those left to pick up the pieces. ( )
2 vote SouthernKiwi | Apr 16, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802170188, Paperback)

Summer 1967. The turmoil of the Maoist revolution is spilling over into Hong Kong and causing unrest as war rages in neighboring Vietnam. White Ghost Girls is the story of Frankie and Kate, two American sisters living in a foreign land in a chaotic time. With their war-photographer father off in Vietnam, Marianne, their beautiful but remote mother, keeps the family close by. Although bound by a closeness of living overseas, the sisters could not be more different — Frankie pulses with curiosity and risk, while Kate is all eyes and ears. Marianne spends her days painting watercolors of the lush surroundings, leaving the girls largely unsupervised, while their Chinese nanny, Ah Bing, does her best to look after them. One day in a village market, they decide to explore — with tragic results. In Alice Greenway’s exquisite gem of a novel, two girls tumble into their teenage years against an extraordinary backdrop both sensuous and dangerous. This astonishing literary debut is a tale of sacrifice and solidarity that gleams with the kind of intense, complicated love that only exists between sisters.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:14 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The children of a war-photographer father and beautiful but remote mother, Frankie and Kate, two American sisters, grow up in Hong Kong during the turmoil of the Maoist revolution of the late 1960s.

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.41)
1 4
2 8
2.5 4
3 19
3.5 10
4 27
4.5 1
5 9

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 136,494,729 books! | Top bar: Always visible