AUSTRALIAN WRITER GAIL Jones's second novel, Sixty Lights, is a book in which nearly all the main characters, and many minor ones, de - from disease, suicide, and sudden freak accidents. The most spectacular of these deaths opens the book. An Indian man falls from scaffolding while carrying a mirror and is speared through the chest by the shattered glass. As the book closes, about eight deaths later, Thomas Strange, who is the brother of main protagonist Lucy and one of the few who make it to the end, 'felt that the whole world was drenched in grief'.
But, tragic as it is, Jones's beautifully written tale of two Australian orphans, Lucy and Thomas, and of how Lucy becomes a pioneering young photographer back in the 1860s and 1870s, is also curiously positive in its outlook. It is concerned with the pleasure of seeing, the yearning to make