English novelist MATTHEW GREGORY LEWIS (1775–1818) earned the nickname "Monk" Lewis after the success of his novel The Monk. But here, in this nonfiction work, he dramatizes, often in humorous and insightful fashion, his two year-long stays on the island of Jamaica, in 1815–6 and in 1817. Lewis died at sea the next year returning from the West Indies, which hardly seems surprising when one reads his descriptions of the dangerous Atlantic crossing, when wicked weather and dying livestock meant to serve as food threatened all aboard. But his joy in the beauty of his estates in Jamaica and his enjoyment of the people—both native and colonial—he encountered there is palpable. As a journal of plantation life during slavery, too, it serves as a potent firsthand document of significant historical import. Readers of fiction, history, and personal diaries will delight in this often overlooked work of early-19th-century literature.