Sunday, August 28, 2011

A High Wind In Jamaica by Richard Hughes

With all this hurricane talk on Twitter, I'm reminded of an excellent novel - A High Wind In Jamaica by Richard Hughes, published in 1929.

The Bas-Thornton children, John, Emily, Edward, Rachel, and Laura, enjoy a carefree, privileged life on their family sugar cane plantation in late nineteenth century Jamaica.  A massive hurricane desimates their home, and their parents decide to send them back to their original home in England via merchant ship.  The ship is seized by pirates, and the children are kidnapped. 

The children quickly learn to appease their captors in order to survive, but soon find themselves adapting to their new life too well, and they begin committing primal, uncharacteristiclly dark deeds (al la Lord of the Flies by William Golding).

A High Wind In Jamaica is a classic of twentieth-century literature; a beautifully written story about seduction, duplicity, and unexpected violence. However, the real treat is Hughes' delving into the ingenious minds of children adapting to a crisis.

Note:  This is a book about children; not for children.

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