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Hungry Ghosts Hardcover – May 1, 2009

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


' [A] stunning debut. A schoolgirl in Hong Kong is haunted by the ghost of a murdered Chinese girl in this story of broken family, and its hidden secrets and lies.' Woman and Home "A stunning debut!Epic in scope and voice!so skilfully crafted, and the writing so elegant, it's hard to believe it is a first novel." The Globe and Mail '[A] brilliant, brittle portrayal of colonial Hong Kong and vividly cruel series of first-person narratives' Psychologies 'The vivid, sensory depictions of Hong Kong circa 1970 ignite this almost unrelentingly sad story, and Berry's easy way of switching between different narrative voices from chapter to chapter is impressive.' The List

About the Author

Anne Berry was born in London in 1956, then spent much of her infancy in Aden, before moving on to Hong Kong at the age of six, where she was educated. She worked for a short period as a journalist for the South China Morning Post, before returning to Britain. After completing a three-year acting course, she embarked on a career in theatre, playing everything from pantomime to Shakespeare. She now lives in Surrey with her husband and four children. 'The Hungry Ghosts' is her first novel.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Door (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007303408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007303403
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,141,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By M. N. on March 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
The novel is set mostly in Hong Kong, where a young girl - an outsider in her family - lives with her distant parents, older sisters, and younger brother. Alice is clearly a disappointment to her family. Her father is caring but unable to articulate his feelings. Her mother is distant and emotionally abusive. She blames Alice for having to be subjected to another pregnancy in order to produce her precious only son.

There is also the problem of Alice's behaviour. While others might see her as a bit odd but merely inquisitive child, her family sees her as a troublemaker with emotional and mental issues that make their lives difficult. It certainly does not help mattes when Alice becomes haunted by the angry spirit of a young Chinese girl who was raped and murdered by a Japanese soldier about 20 years earlier.

The novel follows Alice and her ghost from her early teens till middle-age. The story is told in small chapters which all have different voices. This allows the reader to see all of the different facets of the events. Alice has a very different view, for example, of a medal ceremony they attended for her father than her mother does. There strong contrasts between the voices makes for a particularly engaging read.

I also found Alice's character to be fascinating. She was bright and interesting, but at the same time terribly insecure - likely due to her family. Her ghost was well-fleshed out as well, and I enjoyed the chapters told from the ghosts perspective. The other characters are hugely flawed, which make them rather interesting, and they place this family beside a less dysfunctional family to further demonstrate the abuses which are heaped on Alice.

There are several important twists in the story which I will not reveal, however I was satisfied with the conclusion. Some got what they deserved, others didn't. This is of course much like real life.
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By dawnc on November 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
On the whole I enjoyed this book, but some things just didn't make sense and some things were just too irritating. Why, for instance did the ghost take nearly 30 years to latch onto some one ? Surely there were many children before Alice came along?
I enjoyed the descriptions of Hong Kong, I enjoyed the book, but at times it didn't seem to know if it was an adults or a children's story!
It is certainly written for adults , with a lot of adult content, but bringing the ridiculous talking dog ghost and headless budgie into it was too infantile. seriously, a ghost of a faithful dog is fine but one that can now speak ? I felt I had to skim past the childish endless descriptions of spectral budgies causing chaos! and an aborted foetus ghost that can talk and "slide down banisters".
I felt that these extra ghost characters were childish and unnecessary to the story, and should have been edited out, why did the bird ghost latch on to her? It wasn't even hers, what was the point at all ?
This was not an awful first novel at all, and the author will do well if she remembers not to mix adult books with children's !
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Format: Paperback
This is a pretty bad book. The multiple point-of-view is confusing, the characters are unbelievable, and not one of them is likable. Also, there's way too much telling and not enough showing. Probably less than 10 percent of the text is conversation, and the rest is just narration. This results in a really flat book; it could have been a lot more active. Oh, and there's some really bad sections where the author has the characters 'tell' you necessary historical background. Very clumsy.

That said, the author isn't completely talentless. Her descriptions of places are often vivid and she has some good use of words. (She has a few really miserable ones, too, where her metaphors are tortured and in some cases laughable.) If she'd had either a good editor or a really good writing workshop, she might have come up with a better book. As it is, this one seems to have been hurried into print while still in first draft or second draft stage.

This book is inspiring to aspiring writers. Why? Because if a book this bad can make it into print, maybe yours can too.
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Format: Paperback
I'm confused about what was the point of this novel. I read it because I've lived in London, Paris and Hong Kong. It was fun to read about familiar places but that was where the enjoyment ended.

Why did this ghost latch on to this girl? Was there some lesson on life after death or what was it going on?

The writing style was very annoying, written in the first person by multiple characters but all sounding the same. The only one who didn't write was the main character, which was a disappointment. I would have kind of liked to have had her explain some things.

Most of the players are really unsympathetic, especially the mother. She seems to have no logic or soul and the only "explanation" was that her brother was favored as a child. There is also a very thinly explained suicide and it's odd that someone gets pregnant at 16 and then without explanation, never gets pregnant again. Certainly that wasn't the reason? Not medically accurate. Sorry!
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