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Sixty Lights by Gail Jones

Sixty Lights (2004)

by Gail Jones

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1675107,614 (3.67)47



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Showing 5 of 5
This work of neo-Victorian fiction is about the life of a girl who becomes a woman and becomes a photographer. It gets a little bit too cute at times-- our protagonist anticipating movies is one thing, but I rolled my eyes when she said something designed to be a pre-echo of Walter Benjamin. It's a transparent way of making your protagonist special. Anyway, this wasn't really bad (I liked it more than the similar Afterimage, which I read around the same time), but it never grabbed hold of me emotionally.
  Stevil2001 | Jun 25, 2016 |
Gail Jones – Sixty Lights
This book is just a little too studied and styled particularly in its language, which has a distancing effect. It is beautifully written, even magical at times, but ultimately lacks emotional warmth. I found it hard to attach to the characters through the fog of dense language. The narrative is too fractured as well, especially in part one. This also had the effect of distancing me from the emotional trajectory of the story and characters. I found it hard to follow which time frame I was in and which character the chapter was referring to; was the chapter about Lucy as a girl, as a woman, or was it about her mother Honoria? I generally love the fractured narrative and I adore poetic language, but in this book it was just too overdone and it didn’t seem to speak from the heart, but instead from an idea of what a contemporary work of literature should be. The book is extremely intelligent, skilful and at times, the imagery Jones creates is luminous, but as a whole it didn’t move me. I think that poetic language has more punch when it emerges from prose. It is contrast that creates interest. ( )
  Sophiejf | Apr 29, 2013 |
The lyrical writing which I usually so enjoy in Jones's works seemed precious here. The central character, Lucy Strange--orphaned as a child in Australia; carried off to Victorian England with her brother, Thomas, by their profligate and bibulous uncle, Neville; 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; and, finally, a photographic artist and consumptive back in England again--is simply too insubstantial a vessel to carry the freight of the author's rarefied musings. Lucy never seems like a person, but rather some sort of Jungian anima figure. While the shifting setting from Australia, to England, to India, and back again to England is interesting, this is not my favourite work by Gail Jones. Not recommended. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Oct 28, 2012 |
I don't know that I have the words to do justice to Gail Jones' prose in this gem of a novel. That being said I wasn't initially drawn in. I found the early part confusing as it moved between narrative voices and time periods. The story begins with the death of Honoria in Australia, mother to Lucy and Thomas, soon followed by their father's suicide. Before his death he wrote to Honoria's brother Neville asking him to accept guardianship of the children. Neville has lived a wayward batchelor existence but rises to the challenge.
The story digresses to Honoria and Neville's childhood before returning to Lucy and Thomas' new life in London with Uncle Neville.
I am pleased to have had a wet weekend to savour the beautiful prose of this story and I hope to revisit it at a later date to fully appreciate her word skills. ( )
  HelenBaker | Jul 22, 2012 |
Acknowledgement - I couldn't finish this book, so I am not reviewing it per se, just commenting on what I didn't like.

This book suffers from 'creative-writing workshop' syndrome. I don't know if Jones has ever been to one of these workshops, or done a creative-writing course, but it just has that feel to me. The description doesn't feel like it is there to describe objects or events, but rather there for the sake of showing off the writer's descriptive skills - it is extraneous and distracting. And the children characters are given the personalities and viewpoints of mature adults, which always annoys. And, for the first 50 pages or so, the whole story feels falsly constructed, a hard to describe 'ugh' that put me off reading it.

Didn't pass the 50 page test for me. ( )
  ForrestFamily | Jun 6, 2006 |
Showing 5 of 5
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"It begins with an eighty-year-old mystery. Three men - a father and his two sons - vanished without a trace while working as labourers on a dangerous project to build the first road through the Florida Everglades. Now, years later, a series of letters are unexpectedly discovered by a descendent of these men. Driven by the need to know what happened to these lost members of the family, he starts asking questions - and is quickly stonewalled. With nowhere else to turn, he enlists the help of former Philadelphia police officer Max Freeman.". "Living in his isolated shack on an ancient river in the Glades, Max starts his longshot investigation into the fate of the men. A newly minted private investigator working with his friend and attorney, Billy Manchester, Max is surprised to immediately meet resistance at every turn. The search for the truth quickly turns violent - and Max finds he has more to worry about than just eighty-year-old ghosts. For there are powerful interests that want to make sure that the shadows of the past remain undisturbed - including some who will kill to make sure that they do."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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