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A High Wind in Jamaica (1929)

by Richard Hughes

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,821576,812 (3.87)208
Presents the story of children sent to England after a hurricane destroys their parents' Jamaican estate; after a pirate attack, the children are accidentally placed on a pirate vessel, and they adjust to life on the pirate ship.
  1. 10
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Similar in theme, different in tone.
  2. 00
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (SCPeterson)
    SCPeterson: Both are great novels revealing the darker side of childhood imagination

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» See also 208 mentions

English (55)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
A book about children and pirates? Sounds fun. And on the surface it is. The five Bas-Thorton children are being raised in a haphazard fashion on a dilapidated plantation in Jamaica in the mid-1800s. After an earthquake and a hurricane in quick succession, the parents decide to send their children, along with two other children, to England for safety. Not long after departing, the barque is overrun by pirates. In a comedy of errors, the pirates attempt to use the children as hostages and instead end up stuck with them on their ship. One almost feels sorry for the pirates. But throughout the entire book there is an undercurrent of darkness, which only gets more disturbing as the tale progresses.

Although the word trauma is never used, the children are exposed to a series of traumatic, life-threatening events, from natural disasters to kidnapping, and they must cope without any emotional support from adults. Left to make sense of the world on their own, they come to decisions that can be funny (are the sailors pirates or pilots?) or cold and deadly. By the end of the book, even the things that seemed funny earlier take on darker meaning. ( )
  labfs39 | Mar 26, 2021 |
Modern Library put this book on its list of "100 best novels of the twentieth century". I am perplexed. This is an odd story of an English family living in Jamaica in the early 1900s. When they experience a hurricane, the parents decide it's a good idea to send their young children (all under 10) back to England on a ship by themselves. The children set off on a ship which is promptly overrun by pirates. This sets them on a strange, sometimes violent, dangerous voyage.

I was disengaged a lot of the time from this. I guess it was an adventure story, but it didn't grab my attention. I would often read a couple of pages and then think, wait, what just happened?! And go back to reread some unbelievable chain of events. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for this. It seems to be a book that many people love. It just wasn't for me. ( )
  japaul22 | Feb 6, 2021 |
Ugh, after about 10 pages the racism and cruelty to both animals and people was more than I could abide. This is supposed to be a classic?
  amyem58 | Nov 12, 2020 |
I registered this book at BookCrossing.com!

A small group of children is sent off on a ship to London, to escape the high winds of Jamaica and obtain a good education. However, pirates raid the ship and, somewhat inadvertently, take the children.

These aren't pirates of old. They aren't actually dangerous, although they pretend to be. The children, used to being shuffled around without their consent, take things in stride. They don't seem particularly aware that they have been kidnapped. So they make the most of their situation. Although their sleeping accommodations are less than desirable, they accept what they get.

Things happen on board that ship, however. Emily, age ten, emerges as the leader of the children when an older child abdicates. She is at the center of the troubles and ultimately testifies against her captors, accusing them of actions they did not take. But she has reason. Unfortunately, she is the only one who knows what she is hiding.

The tale is child-oriented. Emily undergoes various changes in her mind during the months at sea, changes related to her maturation. But she is still a child with a child's needs and wants. Is this a Lord-of-the-Flies situation, as some have suggested? In a way, perhaps. I disagree with the writer of the introduction, Isabel Paterson, who postulates that children are essentially amoral, have no way to differentiate right from wrong. I believe they very well know right from wrong, from quite an early age, although the scale of rightess and wrongness may be out of kilter to them.

The writing is simple and friendly, even humorous at times. The narrator speaks in the first person about himself or herself yet we never figure out who he or she represents. Just the teller of the story.

It's a short, highly readable book about an intriguing topic: the way children perceive the world. Or, perhaps, the way well-brought-up white children perceived the world in the early part of the 20th century. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
Despite some passages in the beginning of the book that show the British imperialist perspective in all its casual racism, the writing in this book is marvelous. Hughes seemed to have a great insight into how children think (or don't think) but I must admit that I was chilled by how John's disappearance was ignored. The children's silence would have made more sense to me if they had seen or known of his death but except for Margaret, they didn't know what had happened to him. Of course, worse followed! I felt quite sorry for Jonsen and his crew at the end. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 15, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hughes, Richardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Karascz, IlonaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuper, MaryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lambert, SaulIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maloney, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peereboom, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prose, FrancineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Time EditorsPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Untermeyer, LouisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, LyndIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watkins, VernonForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One of the fruits of Emancipation in the West Indian islands is the number of ruins, either attached to the houses that remain or within a stone's throw of them: ruined slaves' quarters, ruined sugar-grinding houses, ruined boiling houses; often ruined mansions that were too expensive to maintain.
When Destiny knocks the first nail in the coffin of a tyrant, it is seldom long before she knocks the last.
It is the novelist who is concerned with facts, whose job it is to say what a particular man did do on a particular occasion: the lawyer does not, cannot be expected to go further than to show what the ordinary man would be most likely to do under presumed circumstances.
Of course it is not really so cut-and-dried as all this; but often the only way of attempting to express the truth is to build it up, like a card-house, of a pack of lies.
The morning advanced. The heated air grew quite easily hotter, as if from some reserve of enormous blaze on which it could draw at will. Bullocks only shifted their stinging feet when they could bear the soil no longer: even the insects were too languorous to pipe, the basking lizards hid themselves and panted. It was so still you could have heard the least buzz a mile off. Not a naked fish would willingly move his tail. The ponies advanced because they must. The children ceased even to muse.
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Originally published in the US as The Innocent Voyage
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Presents the story of children sent to England after a hurricane destroys their parents' Jamaican estate; after a pirate attack, the children are accidentally placed on a pirate vessel, and they adjust to life on the pirate ship.

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Average: (3.87)
1 6
1.5 2
2 16
2.5 6
3 55
3.5 30
4 122
4.5 26
5 76

NYRB Classics

2 editions of this book were published by NYRB Classics.

Editions: 0940322153, 1590173716

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