My book club chose this book because the author is Western Australian and it was reviewed as being one of the ‘must reads’.
It had a lovely visual quality and the writing was simple, but eloquent.
Here is the publisher’s blurb …
‘Photography has without doubt made her a seer; she is a woman of the future, someone leaning into time, beyond others, precarious, unafraid to fall…’
This is the story of Lucy Strange, a photographer, while the art is in its infancy, in the 1870s, who exists in an extraordinarily heightened state of seeing and imagining. Her tale is told in sixty illuminated parts – using candlelight, flames, lightning, gas-lamps, mirrors, magic lanterns and, most mysteriously, lit faces and bodies. In a contracted, almost modernist form, SIXTY LIGHTS tracks Lucy’s life from her childhood in Australia, to her stormy adolescence in England and India and finally to her death in London at the age of twenty-three. It is a life abbreviated, but not a life diminished: she is a remarkable character, forthright, gifted, passionate and canny. SIXTY LIGHTS plays powerfully with Victorian tropes and texts – orphans, inheritances, Great Expectations – setting them against the technological revolution in seeing that is inspired by photography. Written with astute imagistic precision, the story is deeply layered, fluctuating between past, present and future. This is an impressive UK debut from a prize-winning Australian author.
There are sixty chapters – hence the title Sixty Lights – each chapter is like a photograph or still life – little snippets from Lucy’s life, which together make a compelling and interesting story.
I’ll definitely be looking for more of her work.
Here are some other reviews …
Here is an interview with Gail Jones