White Lightning Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of White Lightning

The protaganist, James Kronk, returns from exile to his homeland of South Africa where his mother lies slowly dying. This is the trigger which stimulates James to examine his past life, both as a child growing up in South Africa and as a young man in exile in Great Britain, where he has worked as a failed film director, working on soft pornography and political films for the National Party.
Click here to see the rest of this review

However, James finally begins to feel as if he has a place in this small town, especially when he gains a windfall of a substantial amount of money left to him by his father, who left for America many years earlier to live with his mistress. He uses the cash to buy himself a farm whereby he can make honey and set up a small cafe. He also inherits a baboon, with which he forms a firm friendship, and attempts to come to the aid of a family of Xhosa living in a wooden shack close to the beach. The young son , it is found, is carrying HIV.

Just as life finally seems to be reaching a level point for James, who has made friends in the town, taken up golf and begun an intense relationship with a local woman, Valerie, one problem after another plagues him. Valerie becomes obsessive and wants more commitment, which he is unwilling to give. She is, in any case, having an affair with his best friend, the lawyer Pennington. The Xhosa family are not accepted by the other black residents on the farm, who do not understand the young boy's illness. To punish James, they destroy his beehives and then lock the boy (Zwalekhe) in the cage with the baboon, Piet, who savagely attacks him. Following Zwalekhe's death, James is forced to murder Piet, as he is not accepted by other wild baboons and so cannot live in the mountains.
Finally, Kronk must give up the farm he loves, after valuable resources are discovered there. He returns to London, alone.

The book charts the problems faced by an individual upon return to his own homeland, the struggle to find a new position for himself, and the ultimate rejection he faces, whereby all his good intentions amount to nothing. He is exiled, an outsider, a stranger on the fringes of society wherever he might go.
The review of this Book prepared by James Leigh

Chapter Analysis of White Lightning

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Ethnic/Regional/Religion    -   African Blacks Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Ethnic/regional/gender life    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   writer Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   British


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   7 () Africa    -   Yes Kind of Africa:    -   White Enclave Mountains/Cliffs    -   Yes Mountains:    -   climbing on trails Farm/Ranch?    -   Yes Farm/Ranch:    -   farm    -   lot of descript of animal care Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like White Lightning

Justin Cartwright Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian