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Sixty Lights Paperback – October 1, 2006
The Amazon Book Review
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"A very special novel indeed" -- Tom Boncza-Tomaszewski * Independent on Sunday * "Jones has a flair for luminous and accurate prose... A passionate book" * Guardian * "Gem-like, lyrical portrait of a girl growing-up" -- Boyd Tonkin * Independent * "Reads like a luminous album of photographs marked by an almost unbearable sadness" * Weekend Australian * "An immensely well crafted novel" * Sunday Independent *
About the Author
GAIL JONES teaches literature, cinema and cultural studies at the University of Western Australia. She is the author of Sixty Lights which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Dreams of Speaking and Sorry, both of which were longlisted for the Orange Prize.
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"Yes", said Lucy. "The world is like this, don't you think? Marked, and shadowed, and flecked with time."
(Sixty Lights, 146)
If there was ever a book marked, shadowed and flecked with time, then this is it.
Full review at https://pastbooks.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/sixty-lights-gail-jones/
A work of historical fiction (neo-Victorian fiction, to be precise), Jones' novel moves across the nineteenth century world with lyricism, whimsy and intentional anachronism to explore a nostalgic vision of the Victorian era.
Throughout this novel, Lucy develops a philosophy of bioluminescence: that life creates light, and that light is connected with images, experiences and memories. This is a text that takes a less critical approach to neo-Victorian representation than some recent novels.* However, Jones is nevertheless no less self-reflexive or intertextual than many neo-Victorian novels, and she intersperses her nineteenth century narrative with "ghosts" from the present - anachronistic references, and modern sensibilities.
A neat analogy for the novel is a scene in which Lucy is charmed by her thumbprint on photographs (199). Lucy is recognising that in seeing her thumbprints she is being honest about the construction of them. This analogy can be applied to the book as a whole: in allowing us to see the `thumbprints' of the postmodern world, Jones is celebrating the maculate nature of the world, and accepting the necessarily constructed nature of art. This is a poetic, nostalgic novel, whose characters are at times lost to the lyricism, but whose light-writing makes it a memorable read.
The author of this book writes beautiful, lyrical prose, both ethereal and haunting and full of the heroine's fantasy of light and shade, sometimes taking three pages to describe a single scene, while I just wanted to get on with the story. It's a dreamy, floaty kind of book and, if that's what you like, this is for you.