Hungry Ghosts Paperback – Apr 9 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
In her American fiction debut, Australian writer Johnson the author of four novels and a memoir offers a racy, intelligent tale of friendship and ambition. Rachel Gallagher and Anne-Louise Buchan, both aspiring artists who knew each other in high school, meet again while working for a fashion magazine in Sydney. Though they couldn't be more different Rachel is careful and proper, Anne-Louise carefree and irreverent they become close friends, going off to London together and staying in touch even when their lives diverge. While Anne-Louise is the artier (and less stable) of the two, Rachel turns out to be the artist, Anne-Louise becoming an administrator for a Hong Kong arts center and joining the enclave's "ghost," or non-Asian, community. Also in Hong Kong is Martin Bannister, a handsome and meticulously groomed futures trader, one of Hong Kong's "golden bachelors." Martin's past his runaway father, his spoiled and willful mother, his years in New Zealand have left him a cache of suppressed anger, which he unleashes in sadistic encounters in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Macao. In time, he crosses paths with Anne-Louise and then with Rachel, testing their friendship and their characters. Johnson narrates all this in forceful prose, swiftly summarizing her characters' lives. The tantalizingly short chapters shift point of view from Rachel to Anne-Louise to Martin. Rachel, who tells her story in the first person, becomes the most developed and complex of the three. Though Johnson veers dangerously close to melodrama (her good-looking men are always "dashing"), her crafty storytelling not to mention her unblinking descriptions of sadism keep the reader turning the pages of this lively novel.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
As the British colony of Hong Kong nervously prepares for its reunification with China, three expatriates (two Australians and one New Zealander) meet with devastating consequences. To the Chinese, all Westerners are "ghosts," and these young spirits drift through Hong Kong's crowded streets, haunted by their past and hungry for something more (love, sex, fame). Self-conscious and inhibited, Rachel Gallagher envies her friend Anne-Louise's exuberance and "talent for life," but Rachel has a successful career as a painter which pains Anne-Louise, whose own artistic ambitions have been thwarted by her psychotic breakdown. When both women fall in love with Martin Bannister, a handsome and troubled futures broker, tragedy is inevitable. Although the plot is predictable and the characters of Rachel and Martin are rather unsympathetic and cliched (she's wracked with self-pitying guilt, he's into S&M), Johnson's portrait of Anne-Louise's emotional self-destruction is finely drawn and heartbreaking. Wilda Williams, "Library Journal'
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Rachel Gallagher and Anne-Louise Buchanan, two very different personalities who were born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, become best friends as they share similar artistic careers at a fashion magazine. They escape their mundane existence in Brisaben, to explore artistic career options in London, UK. Each gets odd jobs, one in a women's clothing store; the other as a waitress. They dreams of making it big in the world as famous artists. Oddly enough for one of these two, the dream comes true. The author alternates the stories and lives of each main character in subsequent chapters. We are first introduced to Martin James Bannister, a handsome stock broker and trader in Hong Kong.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A Great style of writing not easily found in much of today's fiction; this should have been on the Best seller's list.
Looking forward to more of the same intensity and depth from this author. A must Read!
Rachel Gallagher and Anne-Louise Buchanan, two very different personalities who were born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, become best friends as they share similar artistic careers at a fashion magazine. They escape their mundane existence in Brisaben, to explore artistic career options in London, UK. Each gets odd jobs, one in a women's clothing store; the other as a waitress. They dreams of making it big in the world as famous artists. Oddly enough for one of these two, the dream comes true. The author alternates the stories and lives of each main character in subsequent chapters. We are first introduced to Martin James Bannister, a handsome stock broker and trader in Hong Kong. We learn of his career climb after graduating from the London School of Economics. He kept his social background suitably vague so that although he was from a working class background, no one knew or suspected. The author reveals and explores different psycholiogcal aspects of the main characters by reviewing how they were raised and the impact of key familial relationships on their personalities. This clever writing device gives the unsuspecting reader clues to future problems, however innocent the early life experiences sound, they carry the seeds of destruction ... in the future. The book is riveting and eerie ... the bonds of friendship link these two friends and pull them down deeper and deepr into a whirling abysss of unusual life experiences of chaotic and destructive proportions. Only in later chapters does the reader connect early developmental experiences and family relationships that lead to personality and behavioral patterns. These culminate into major problems that are woven as the main themes of this book. These three lives are trapped because of their past ... not by lies ... but somehow their life experiences and personalities interlink and hook in the most twisted ways ... unimaginable except by the author. Uniquely interesting book. Erika Borsos (erikab93)