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Hughes, Richard

children deals jamaica hurricane

(British, 1900–76)

Richard Hughes's first novel, A High Wind in Jamaica (1929, published in the USA as The Innocent Voyage), remains his best. The Thornton family live in Jamaica but put their children on a ship for England after a hurricane strikes. The ship gets captured by pirates, however. The situation is grim, but we come to realize that the children are even worse than their captors (children are mad, according to Hughes). The tone and plot of this novel are very disorientating: it's part children's adventure story, part adult psychological thriller. It's also very funny, and very cynical about human behaviour. It represents a kind of magic realism some decades before that term was invented. In Hazard: A Sea Story (1938) deals with men at sea who suffer a hurricane, then endure fears of a mutiny. A later book, The Fox in the Attic (1961), deals with English and German families as Hitler comes to power and war approaches, and is a fascinating but uneven read.

William Golding. See CHILDHOOD  RF

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