by Richard Arthur Warren Hughes

Reviewer Rating:


One of the lesser known titles on Modern Library's 100 Best Novels is A High Wind in Jamaica, published by Richard Hughes in 1929. Set in the aftermath of the Emancipation of the British West Indies, the novel tells the story of the British Bas-Thornton family and is primarily filtered through the perspectives of their children. After a devastating hurricane, Mr. and Mrs. Bas-Thornton send their five children back to England to presumed safety. But the voyage goes awry and the ship is set upon by pirates and the children are taken hostage. What the pirates don't count on, however, is that they may have met their match in the Bas-Thornton children.

This novel was very interesting. The descriptions were powerful and beautifully written. Hughes's dry prose style shifted between the darkly comic and the downright disturbing. The psychological study of the children--particularly Emily--is a radical reversal of the way children are typically portrayed in nineteenth-century literature. These children are far from innocent, but they're not exactly evil either. Despite these characteristics, the novel didn't grip me like I had hoped.

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