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Sixty Lights

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  445 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Sixty Lights is the captivating chronicle of Lucy Strange, an independent girl growing up in the Victorian world. From her childhood in Australia through to her adolescence in England and Bombay and finally to London, Lucy is fascinated by light and by the new photographic technology. Her perception of the world is passionate and moving, revealed in a series of frozen imag ...more
Paperback, 300 pages
Published May 5th 2005 by Vintage (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  445 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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Debbie Robson
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
The blurb says: “Sixty Lights is the captivating chronicle of Lucy Strange, an independent girl growing up in the Victorian world. From her childhood in Australia through to her adolescence in England and Bombay and finally to London, Lucy is fascinated by light and by the new photographic technology.”
So far so good. The blurb continues: “Her perception of the world is passionate and moving, revealed in a series of frozen images captured in the camera of her mind’s eye, showing her feelings abou
Luminously beautiful story; one that stays with me after I've read it. (Re-read 3x.)
Apr 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary
Gail Jones writes Literature. I think this is important to know. She writes very intimately of the inner feelings and thinkings of her characters and their driving passion.
There is very little dialogue, so when there is dialogue, it feels a little uncomfortable.

The preoccupation of this novel is photography, and seeing. The protagonist sees photographs everywhere, but she feels very deeply about light, and vision, and photography. I am not like this, and so I got lost every time a paragraph wax
Lily Greenall
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I literally stayed up all night reader this. A thoroughly wonderful excursion into magic realism. I felt that Gail Jones imitated perfectly the patter of a Victorian novel with the winding famillial trails followed, the orphaning of the characters and her detailed descriptions of the period while refusing to slip into cliche or Victorian sentimentality.
Canadian Reader
The lyrical writing which I usually so enjoy in Gail Jones's works seemed precious here. The central character, Lucy Strange is orphaned as a child in Australia. She is carried off to Victorian England with her brother, Thomas, by their profligate and bibulous uncle, Neville. She is then naively seduced and impregnated by a mean cad of an Englishman aboard the ship to India, where she's being sent to marry her uncle's friend. Finally, she ends up a photographic artist and consumptive back in Eng ...more
Maree Kimberley
I wasn't sure about reading another Gail Jones novel so soon after Five Bells, which I found a bit disappointing. But Sixty Lights was fabulous.

This is a gorgeous novel filled with light and colour. It's sensual and exotic, taking you into Lucy's journey across three contintents and her love affair with the emerging technologly of photography. Human tragedy - death and despair - are viewed through a prism of light that makes this book vibrate with life on every page.

This is what I'd call an art
Jabiz Raisdana
I loved every word of this book. Definitely a book for readers not too much interested in a quick plot. Gail Jones weaves a beautiful novel that crosses generations and continents. This is a book for readers who love language and want to get lost in descriptions and poetry.

A wonderful, tragic and challenging text that will help readers adapt to more mature themes and styles of writing.

I never wanted this one to end. I will miss Lucy the most as she is a brilliant independent and powerful femal
Apr 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
a wonderful read, Imaginative, poetic and translucent
writing, about an independent young woman, set in
Victorian times, and her interest in photography....
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Gentle on the eyes. Fell in love with strong and defiant Lucy
Anne Marie
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful historical fiction story. I enjoyed the connections from generation to generation. This is a great book for grade 8 and high school, there is some sexual content.
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, 2012
A wonderful story about the beauty of life.
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
more of a 3.8?

Read this for my creative writing class, the writing style was lovely and so beautiful. It felt so lyrical and I was so invested in the characters of this book especially Lucy, I adored her independence and power.
Lesley Moseley
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Love her writing. I'v read this before.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this while on holidays, so was reading in fits and starts which may have impacted on my overall impression of the book. I remember finding the narrative relatively engaging but nothing really stuck out in my mind, and now I can't even remember anything about it, so it must not have been that sensational. A quick easy read.
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
I love reading Gail Jones: her prose startles me with insights. However, in skimming back over this novel, I found too little I could excerpt to illustrate her power or her reach. As a crafter of short pieces, she is on my list of greats; as a novelist, she leaves me wondering in this early piece (2004). Still, I can't wait to read more.Here is one very cool passage:

"Thomas pointed out that there were lovers shining mirrors at each other, one on the dock and one not far from them on the dock. I
Oct 26, 2011 rated it liked it
While I enjoyed reading this book, I didn't engage with the characters and the storyline much and felt that the author's style was sometimes a bit overly descriptive. But I did very much enjoy the following passage which is a wonderful description of how Lucy sees the continents of the world: "...there was corpulent Australia, removed and remote, there were the marine-looking archipelagoes of Southeast Asia (looking like coral, like sea cucumbers, like beaded strings of seaweed); there was the p ...more
Sofija Dubianskaja
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: stretch
Sixty Lights is a very complicated and challenging text, it has a lot of depth and thought in it, which is a reason that some people might like it. Unfortunately, this book is not for me. The actual text and literature in this book is very challenges. Many of the words I was faced with, I didn't know and had to search them up to understand the meaning. I did this for a while, but I found that there where so may challenging words that by the middle I just gave up and tried to interpret what the m ...more
Aarushi Rath
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Sixty Lights was a book which I personally didn't enjoy. It lacked dialogue and the story was not well expressed. Although the ending was slightly more engaging, it still wasn't something I would recommend. Firstly, I did not think the book is appropriate for middle school students because of the amount of inappropriate scenes as it makes the reader feel really uncomfortable. Although the book did explore interesting concepts like light and loss, a lot of the sections in the book did put the rea ...more
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Sixty Lights was a book that personally caused me problems in terms of trying to be interested or even caring about any of the characters. Sixty Lights is set in the 1860 in Australia/England/India and it shows the journey through life from Lucy Strange's perspective as an 8 year old child to a 22 year old woman. The book really frustrated me because I found no connections to any of the characters or the story as the writer seems to explain the world through a glass window. There were a lot of s ...more
Kevin Stanlake
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think that this book while meant to be a cultural challenge, wasn't. The story was very interesting however despite a slow beginning the story gradually improved. The craft of this story was amazing. The characters were very life-like, with the exception that Lucy's accurate predictions of the future seems a bit far-fetched. Overall a great book if you are looking for one with good craft.
Jul 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
I read this thanks to one of my photo students. I liked the warps in timeline. The descriptions of how the photographer visulized the world was uncanny and beautifully written. The story itself is kind of cheesy.
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Although it took me a little time to get into the book (not that's not that long a book), after I had I absolutely loved it. The travels that the main character goes through can be seen to symbolise different periods of personal development. Really enjoyed reading this.
Millie Alchin
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
An ok-ish book, not that great. Had some good symbolism and likeable characters, but the story was a bit slow, I found it quite boring.
Alyx Hurst
Feb 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
I cannot deny that the prose of this book is well written. The sentences are elaborately constructed, and a lot of the descriptions are beautiful. Jones also manages to capture a difference in view between the characters when she occasionally switches perspective for one of the snapshots that constitutes a chapter. This, however, is where my praise for the novel ends.

The protagonist, Lucy, is wholly unlikeable in her perfection. As a child, she burns insects and objects with her magnifying glass
Perry Middlemiss
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lucy Strange, the protagonist in Gail Jones's novel Sixty Lights, lives a tragic life: born in Australia in the 1860s, along with her brother Thomas she is orphaned at eight when her mother dies in childbirth and her father suicides in grief a fortnight later, transported to England to live with her uncle whom she has never previously met, condemned to a work-house at 14 when her uncle is nearly bankrupted, shipped to India at around 18 to live with a man to whom her uncle owes money, pregnant b ...more
Nov 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: sensitive
'Sixty Lights' by Gail Jones is a study of a woman's life from her childhood to adulthood. It is set in the 1860s-80s in Australia, India, and London. As she grows up, the woman, Lucy, is fascinated by light and photography; everything she sees, she describes through a prism of light and shadow. While the story itself is straightforward and the reader is drawn to the various characters, the prose is anything but. It is all very artistic and literary. Just what are we meant to make of sentences s ...more
Sarah Baker
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An exceptionally beautiful book, an actual work of art. I love the way the author gives us little glimpses into the future and interjects with her own voice from time to time. Perhaps a writing style that is an acquired taste, but from a literary perspective it is absolutely standout writing. I'd suggest reading it in one or two sittings though, as this style of writing can confuse a reader if they lose track of the plot or are too distracted. I know I'll read it again and undoubtedly get more o ...more
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-find
I just couldn't get into this one. There really isn't much of a story and very little dialogue. Instead it very much focuses on the inner thoughts of the main character, who views life with the eye of a photographer. It is very beautiful, lyrical writing (I enjoy beautifully woven together words) but it was not enough to inspire any investment from me in this main character's life. All that being said, I think if someone is very artistic, especially with an interest in photography, they would re ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very rich, literary, neo-Victorian novel, and I enjoyed it. The beginning is stunning, almost poetic. But beware: Lucy is a deliberately anachronistic character, which I initially found annoying; dialogue is stilted (but there's not much of it); and the light motif starts to grate towards the end. But the imagery, as promised, really is luminous and lyrical.
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Gail Jones is the author of two short-story collections, a critical monograph, and the novels BLACK MIRROR, SIXTY LIGHTS, DREAMS OF SPEAKING, SORRY and FIVE BELLS.

Three times shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, her prizes include the WA Premier's Award for Fiction, the Nita B. Kibble Award, the Steele Rudd Award, the Age Book of the Year Award, the Adelaide Festival Award for Fiction and th

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