A High Wind in Jamaica

A High Wind in Jamaica

Book - 1999
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Random House, Inc.
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.

Baker & Taylor
Presents the story of children sent to England after a hurricane destroys their parents' Jamaican estate; after a pirate attack, the children are accidentally placed on a pirate vessel, and they adjust to life on the pirate ship.

Blackwell North Amer
After a terrible hurricane levels their Jamaican estate, the Bas-Thorntons decide to send their children back to the safety and comfort of England. On the way their ship is set upon by pirates, and the children are accidentally transferred to the pirate vessel. Jonsen, the well-meaning pirate captain, doesn't know how to dispose of his new cargo, while the children adjust with surprising ease to their new life. As this strange company drifts around the Caribbean, events turn more frightening and the pirates find themselves increasingly incriminated by the children's fates. The most shocking betrayal, however, will take place only after the return to civilization.
The swift, almost hallucinatory action of Hughes's novel, together with its provocative insight into the psychology of children, made it a best seller when it was first published in 1929 and has since established it as a classic of twentieth-century literature - an unequaled exploration of the nature, and limits of innocence.

Publisher: New York : New York Review Books, 1999, c1929
ISBN: 9780940322158
Branch Call Number: F HUG
Characteristics: 279 p. ; 21 cm
Alternative Title: The innocent voyage


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
IndyPL_SteveB May 21, 2019

This 1929 classic novel is in turns humorous, cynical, horrifying, ironic, violent, adventurous, and amoral, but always observant and surprising. The Bas-Thornton family is English but live among the ruins of former sugar plantations in Jamaica. The children run bare footed and swim naked and appear to have only a vague and confused set of morals. After a hurricane destroys their home, their parents determine that the children should be sent back to England for their safety. But on the voyage, their ship is captured by an odd set of pirates and the children are sort of kidnapped and taken on board the pirate ship.

This is NOT a children’s book. The tone of the book is unusual in the extreme and was highly controversial when the book was published. The children are not particularly concerned about the health and safety of *anyone* else, including their parents, or other adults. Eventually, we realize the children aren’t even much connected *to each other* in any serious way. At every turn the book overturns your expectations as to what will happen. This is, in the long run, a novel about childhood; but it is a remarkably different childhood than you are likely to read about in any other book except perhaps *Lord of the Flies,* which it supposedly influenced.

Feb 14, 2019

The inner life of children is not sweet but strange and amoral. This book is both funny and very disturbing. The writing is beautiful, the setting is exotic and preconceptions are very quickly turned on their heads.

Dec 17, 2018

This was a very unusual book. I was stunned by the high ratings. Too strange for me, even though I realize it was written about 100 years ago. I don’t know how it made it on a list of 100 top books, but like one other reviewer, the forward of the book about spooked me out of reading it. I thought it was unsettling.

Dec 10, 2018

What cruelty to animals? (see below) One of the Modern Library's best books of the 20th century. Sometimes compared to "Lord of the Flies," but other than the kids in distress theme, it has very little on common with Golding's classic.

Oct 16, 2018

I read the introduction and realized that this is not a book for me. Cruelty to animals disgusts me.

Apr 18, 2018

Some have likened this book to a bit of Peter Pan mixed in with Lord of the Flies. Certainly, there's a never-never aura to it and the prominent role of Emily might remind one of Wendy. But all that is quite superficial. Reference to Lord of the Flies Has a good deal more validity, but still somewhat misses the point. What we have here is first and foremost a writer who manages to immerse himself in the mobile minds of children to a remarkable degree. The child's awareness of events; her interpretation of the relative importance and meaning of those events; a child's perception that is often completely at odds with that of an adult beholding the same occurrences: grasping all of that and putting it into coherent words is surely quite a feat.
As for the story itself, it's a rambling one and ultimately of little consequence. Hughes strikes me as not a very good story teller; actions are abrupt, sometimes disjointed and far from convincing. Rather, the true substance of this book lies in its exploration of the personalities, both child and adult and their state of mind. In the end, I found it a bit creepy, which is not what I expected.

Nov 16, 2017

Good book, but creepy. Quite dark. Disney meets Stephen King.

Dec 06, 2012

Written in 1929 - written about childhood but not for children. This book is on the Modern Library's List of top 100 novels.


Add Age Suitability
whiteshadow13 Jun 15, 2012

whiteshadow13 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at DPL

To Top