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A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes

April 10, 2010 Read No Comments

I first came across A High Wind in Jamaica after listening to Andrew Sean Greer’s review of it on NPR’s You Must Read This Series. The review was short, but captivating. It made me long for those lazy days where I’d have time to casually take in some literature. Well, I finally took the initiative to carve out some personal time.

Anyways, here’s the part of the review that got me to pick up the book:

The story begins almost whimsically in Jamaica, with five English children surviving a hurricane. Later on, as the ship is returning to Europe, we enter Treasure Island territory when the vessel is boarded by pirates.

Here’s where it gets good, because the pirates and the children begin to switch places. At first the pirates are the brutal ones, drinking heavily and throwing people overboard as pirates will. But the children have such a deformed sense of right and wrong that it’s soon the pirates who are frightened of them.

Having just finished it, I’d say that the book did not disappoint. In the course of a couple of days, the 1929 novel transported my mind to colonial Jamaica, then on board a pirate ship, and finally to an English coutroom. All the while, I was given omniscient access to the thinking and reasoning of the pirates and children. This gave credence to the characters’ calculated interactions and to the eventual story conclusion, which kind of left me unease (in a good way).

Note: The picture in this post is a screen shot of the 1965 film adaptaion of the novel, which I have yet to see.

Links:
Buy The Book for Cheap
Andrew Sean Greer, A Delightfully Evil Tale of Pirates and Children, NPR, 7/7/2009.
Introduction to A High Wind in Jamaica by Francine Prose (a worthwhile read)

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