A High Wind in Jamaica (New York Review of Books Classics Series)

A High Wind in Jamaica (New York Review of Books Classics Series)

3.6 17
by Richard Hughes, Francine Prose
     
 

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Richard Hughes's celebrated short novel is a masterpiece of concentrated narrative. Its dreamlike action begins among the decayed plantation houses and overwhelming natural abundance of late nineteenth-century Jamaica, before moving out onto the high seas, as Hughes tells the story of a group of children thrown upon the mercy of a crew of down-at-the-heel pirates. A

Overview

Richard Hughes's celebrated short novel is a masterpiece of concentrated narrative. Its dreamlike action begins among the decayed plantation houses and overwhelming natural abundance of late nineteenth-century Jamaica, before moving out onto the high seas, as Hughes tells the story of a group of children thrown upon the mercy of a crew of down-at-the-heel pirates. A tale of seduction and betrayal, of accommodation and manipulation, of weird humor and unforeseen violence, this classic of twentieth-century literature is above all an extraordinary reckoning with the secret reasons and otherworldly realities of childhood.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This brilliant, gorgeously written, highly entertaining, and apparently light-hearted idyll quickly reveals its true nature as a powerful and profoundly disquieting meditation on the meaning of loyalty and betrayal, innocence and corruption, truth and deception."

— Francine Prose, Elle

"During one snowy day, I read the whole book in one gulp. It was remarkable, tiny, crazy. I felt just like I did as a kid."

— Andrew Sean Greer, All Things Considered, NPR

"A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes is like those books you used to read under the covers with a flashlight, only infinitely more delicious and macabre."

— Andrew Sean Greer, All Things Considered, NPR

“Cross a wacky seafaring adventure—Conrad gone awry via inept piracy—with an exploration of the consciousness of a child as radical and insightful as that provided by Henry James in What Maisie Knew, and you have A High Wind In Jamaica by Richard Hughes....By turns funny, ironic, and brutally sad, this is a complex and astonishing novel."—Sue Miller, Barnes and Noble Review

Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
In this re-released classic, Hughes spins the tale of five children forced to survive without adult supervision and the occurrences that befall them in the subsequent time. After a cataclysmic hurricane hits Jamaica, the Bas-Thornton children, along with their Creole friends the Fernandez children, get aboard a ship to England without their parents. No sooner do they set sale, then pirates overtake the ship! Thus follows their episodic-like adventures aboard the pirate ship. This is a beautifully written story complete with vivid descriptions of Jamaica and, later, life at sea; however it is not for the reader with a wandering mind or short attention span. Such readers will find themselves lost in the descriptions and forgetting what is going on in the story. Psychoanalytically, Hughes delves into the topic of the child mind and what happens when children are left, at a young age, to make decisions for themselves. The idea itself proves to be disconcerting at times as the children, far from civilization, exhibit more primal instincts and the story is threaded with undercurrents of evil and amorality. Though the story itself is told through the eyes of the children, it is clearly written for older teens and adults. This would make a wonderful literary addition to a high school classroom, as it is chock-full of discussion topics and the exploration into the child's mind and the idea of morality as a learned skill, rather than a basic instinct. Reviewer: Jeanna Sciarrotta
Rebecca West
A hot draught of mad, primal fantasy and poetry.
Ford Madox Ford
There used to hang on the walls of country public houses and farm labourer's cottages a lithograph that, seen from close quarters, represented two innocent children against the light on a balcony beneath an arched window. When you receded from it you saw that in truth it showed as a skull, with crossbones complete beneath. Mr. Hughes book is that lithograph come to life in another art.
Joyce Carol Oates
[An] eerie, magical, and now unfortunately little-read tale of middle-class English children on a ship, bound for England....A High Wind in Jamaica is part fairy tale, part horror parable...

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780940322158
Publisher:
New York Review Books
Publication date:
09/28/1999
Series:
NYRB Classics Series , #2
Pages:
279
Sales rank:
456,174
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.78(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"This brilliant, gorgeously written, highly entertaining, and apparently light-hearted idyll quickly reveals its true nature as a powerful and profoundly disquieting meditation on the meaning of loyalty and betrayal, innocence and corruption, truth and deception."

— Francine Prose, Elle

 

"During one snowy day, I read the whole book in one gulp. It was remarkable, tiny, crazy. I felt just like I did as a kid."

— Andrew Sean Greer, All Things Considered, NPR

 

"A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes is like those books you used to read under the covers with a flashlight, only infinitely more delicious and macabre."

— Andrew Sean Greer, All Things Considered, NPR

“Cross a wacky seafaring adventure—Conrad gone awry via inept piracy—with an exploration of the consciousness of a child as radical and insightful as that provided by Henry James in What Maisie Knew, and you have A High Wind In Jamaica by Richard Hughes....By turns funny, ironic, and brutally sad, this is a complex and astonishing novel."—Sue Miller, Barnes and Noble Review

Meet the Author

Richard Hughes (1900-1976) was born in Surrey, England, but his ancestors came from Wales and he considered himself a Welshman. After an early childhood marked by the deaths of two older siblings and his father (his mother then went to work as a magazine journalist), Hughes attended boarding school and, with every expectation of being sent to fight in the First World War, enrolled in the military. Armistice was declared, however, before he could see active service, and Hughes was free to go to Oxford, where he became a star on the university literary scene, with a book of poems in print and a play produced in the West End by the time he graduated in 1922. Hughes’s first novel, A High Wind in Jamaica, came out in 1928 and was a best seller in the United Kingdom and America. In Hazard followed ten years later. Hughes also wrote stories for children and radio plays, but his final major undertaking was the “The Human Predicament”, an ambitious amalgamation of fact and fiction that would track the German and English branches of a single family into the disaster of the Second World War while offering a dramatic depiction of Hitler’s rise to power. The work was planned as a trilogy, but remained incomplete at the time of Hughes’s death. The first volume, The Fox in the Attic, appeared in 1960, to great critical acclaim; volume two, The Wooden Shepherdess, was published in 1973. All of Hughes’s completed novels are available from NYRB Classics.

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High Wind in Jamaica 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Based on the reviews, I thought I would enjoy this more. While I liked the children in the story and the story itself, when I got done with it, I was left kind of feeling like 'so what?'! So, while I wouldn't highly recommend this book, I wouldn't tell someone not to read it either.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a old classic, a must read. I grew up watching this the movie but had never read the book. I finally got my library to track down an old copy for borrowing, finally reading it. I must saw i was disapointed in some things but over all i enjoyed this book. I know of people who didnt like this book themselfs so i reccomend borrowing from your local library first before u spend money on a book u might not like. This movie is more children/family based but my opion is the book is more based for older kids (teens) and adults.
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joycegal More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure what to expect from this novel but came away from it feeling like I just got to read a pirate's tale for grown-ups...
Sushia More than 1 year ago
When I heard the story on NPR about this book I was very, very excited and could not wait to bring this book into my book club. I have however since, read the book and was truly disappointed. The radio article hyped this story as being about the children who were captured by pirates and end up being more cruel then the pirates. The actual book was about children, inadvertently captured by pirates, followed by series of mishaps that can happen to children put into an exotic and sometimes hysterical state. I kept reading and reading hoping that with the turn of a page the story could only get better. I do think this book could be a good discussion topic for a group to review, only to gather the different opinions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The way the children just accept changes and don't think too deeply about some matters will remind you that children can be 'innocents' in the world. A a couple facts (about brother John and the parents) are not believable. It is a swashbuckling tale, and the children are swept into the adventure. The book leaves the reader with some points to debate, and that makes it a better read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having read many reviews before reading the book my expectations were very high. After reading the book I wonder why it received such high marks. Hughes' style of writting can be confusing and hard to follow. However, his descriptions of the physcial world are great and depiction of thoughts and motives of characters is wonderful. The tale's end is what turned out exceedingly shocking. Till the very end I was expecting a moment where the guilty character would 'come clean' or something would happen to set everything 'right'. The travesty of justice that ends the book left me with a very fowl taste for the book and the author. It's not a terrible book, but it's not something I would recommend to anyone to whom I wanted to remains friends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am so happy to see this wonderful classic back in print! It is about the children of a group of white Jamaican planters who are shipped off to boarding school in England. The youngest is 6, if I remember correctly, so they are all somewhat traumatized at leaving their parents and homes to sail to the unknown. And their ship is attacked and captured by pirates!!! They are scared to death, but find the pirates treating them rather humanely. This is a must read for everyone and should be on every school library's shelves.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i found this book last summer among the heaps the discarded books in the basement of our public library. it's spine was cracked in half and it's pages yellow--but what a wonderful book it turned out to be! i'm glad to see it's been printed again. please read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A true classic, not a minor classic. The quintessential tale of lost innosence. A collectors' book. All of that said>>I bought this new nyrb book with a different cover? Online, to send it as gift, I see the 'new' nyrb classic is new again>>so much for a timeless handsome collection. I am not buying this one. Bait and Switch? I bet the reviewer below is back to his first impressions! How do I find the first new version?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I snatch up the dead thrush and sprint out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lays on the ground.