Review: Sixteen, Sixty-One

Posted September 3, 2013

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Sixteen, Sixty-One Sixteen, Sixty-One by Natalie Lucas
Genres: Biography, Memoir
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Natalie Lucas was just 15 when she began a close relationship with a man in his early sixties. Matthew opened Natalie’s mind and heart to philosophy and literature. Within months they had entered into the intense, erotic affair that they would disguise as an innocent intergenerational friendship for several years. Together they mocked the small-town busybodies around them, laughing at plebs like her parents and his in-laws, who were all too blinkered by convention to live pure lives. Only Natalie and Matthew were truly free.

Or so she believed. But when Natalie left her hometown for university and decided she wanted to try to live a normal life, Matthew’s affection soon turned into a consuming obsession.

Written with remarkable candor and grace, Sixteen, Sixty-One is more than an account of suburban grooming: it is the gripping story of a young girl’s sexual awakening and journey into womanhood.

16 was her age when the relationship started, 61 was his…hence the title of the book. He was a neighbour, lived just a few doors down from her house. At a neighbourhood party they started to chat and a friendship was formed. They discussed art, literature, philosophy. They played Scrabble and cards. Their relationship moved on over time, both physically and emotionally.

Lucas tells the (true) story of how she became involved with a married man, 45 years her senior. How they hid their relationship from the world, and how ultimately that relationship would affect her life.

I genuinely didn’t know what to expect from this book. I was sent a summary and thought it was a book that deserved to be read. I’m glad I read it.

Lucas is incredibly honest with her writing. She doesn’t skim past awkward parts, she is frank and open. To be honest I found some parts quite hard to read – the physical relationship between them particularly. I kept thinking of people I knew that were 61 ish when I was 16 and it did make me feel really quite uncomfortable. Then again, it opened my eyes and gave me an awareness. Surely that’s a good thing right?

The thing is, she isn’t biased when she writes about that relationship. You can tell from her writing that she was happy at the time. (This is a great skill when you consider everything he puts her through by the end of the book!)

When Natalie leaves home to go to University she decides to use it as a chance to move on. She has wondered for some time about her feelings towards women, and university could be the perfect place to explore these feelings.

Matthew isn’t so happy to just let her go. In fact his behaviour becomes obsessive. No-one knows about the nature of Natalie’s relationship with Matthew and so when things take a difficult turn (that’s probably quite an understatement!) she really is quite alone.

Telling of her journey from teen to adult. From a 15 year old virgin to a teenager embroiled in an erotic affair with an older man. From a confused teenager to a young adult finding her feet and trying to restore some “normalcy” to her life. This is a memoir about growth and progression. It’s maybe not for the overly sensitive,  but it will open your eyes.

I did really enjoy this book. I like the way it’s written. Lucas doesn’t look for sympathy or pity, she is telling her story and she does it with style. Yes, I found it hard to read in places, but I’m glad I did read it. I’m sure there will be quite a range of reactions to this memoir, but for me I admire Lucas’ bravery and candour.

If you fancy giving this book a go I’ve just checked and it’s currently only 99p on Kindle. A bargain!

We were sent a copy of this book free of charge for our consideration. All opinions expressed are entirely our own and completely honest.