A High Wind in Jamaica (Hughes)

It took me some time to find my way into this book, “one of the hundred best novels of the twentieth century” (Modern Library). Troubled by economic difficulties and natural disasters in Jamaica, two generally clueless parents decide to send their young children back to England. Their ship is captured by a scraggly group of pirates, who make their living less by violence than deception. The children are generally too young to know what’s happening, and it’s only the interior monologue of one of the older girls, Emily, that began to draw me in, to make me wonder about the impact of this, well, “kidnapping,” on the children, on the parents, on the ends of eras (piracy, colonialism), on stories, and on innocence.

I don’t know enough to comment on its inclusion on any sort of list, but it’s definitely intriguing novel, unlike anything else I’ve read. I wish I knew someone else who had read it, so we could discuss it.

3 Replies to “A High Wind in Jamaica (Hughes)”

  1. Hi. Been a while since I read it, and I can’t remember much – but I definitely recall finding it puzzling. In particular, I think, from memory there’s a final scene where Emily (I think?) goes in to play with a group of other children, and to a spectator seems as though she’s well adjusted, or not too outside the norm. I saw that a little as reflecting (in an earlier era) the idea of the ‘Lord of the Flies’ mentality – some reflection that despite our own projections of innocence or harmlessness, children experienced some quite brutal things, and can be quite brutal in that context. As I said though, it’s been a while since I’ve read it, so it’s a hazy recollection.

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