Five Bells by Gail Jones
A Novel

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Synopsis

A Picador Paperback Original




On a radiant day in Sydney, four adults converge on Circular Quay, site of the iconic Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Crowds of tourists mix with the locals, enjoying the glorious surroundings and the play of light on water.



But just as Circular Quay resonates with Australia's past, each of the four carries a complicated history from elsewhere. Each person is haunted by past secrets and guilt. Ellie is preoccupied by her sexual experiences as a girl, James by a tragedy for which he feels responsible, Catherine by the loss of her beloved brother in Dublin, and Pei Xing by her imprisonment during China's Cultural Revolution.



Told over the course of a single Saturday, Five Bells describes four lives that come to share not only a place and a time but also mysterious patterns and ambiguous symbols, including a barely glimpsed fifth figure, a young child. By nightfall, when Sydney is drenched in a summer rainstorm, each life will have been transformed by the events of this day.




 

About Gail Jones

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Gail Jones is the author of the novels Black Mirror, Sixty Lights, Dreams of Speaking, and Sorry. She has been nominated for numerous international awards, including the Man Booker Prize, the Orange Prize, the Dublin IMPAC, and the Prix Femina Étranger. She is a professor of writing at the University of Western Sydney. She lives in Australia.
 
Published February 28, 2012 by Picador. 222 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Five Bells

Kirkus Reviews

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Death is also on the mind of Catherine, an Irish journalist mourning her brother Brendan, her life’s formative influence.

Feb 28 2012 | Read Full Review of Five Bells: A Novel

The Guardian

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Ellie, stepping out into sunlight as the novel begins, both is and is not Clarissa plunging into the fresh June morning at the opening of Mrs Dalloway, while James's narrative links him to Woolf's Septimus (and to Woolf herself) without obscuring those aspects of his character and experience that...

Mar 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Five Bells: A Novel

BC Books

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Throughout the book are tiny threads that bind these characters together – from Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago read by two separate characters at separate times, the visions of the Opera House and Circular Quay that each character experiences at different moments, to the ‘unbeachable gap’ between countri...

Mar 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Five Bells: A Novel

BC Books

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James’ sorrow mingling with his desire forms the black heart of the story, and Jones handles the co-mingling of nostalgia, desire and the development of mature, independent love perfectly: Continued on the next page Page 1 — Page 2 — Page 3

Mar 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Five Bells: A Novel

The Bookbag

Catherine, James and Pei Xing are all dealing with grief – Catherine for her brother killed in a car accident, James for his mother and for another tragedy for which he feels responsible, and Pei Xing for her parents.

Feb 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Five Bells: A Novel

The Sydney Morning Herald

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Jan 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Five Bells: A Novel

Seattle PI

Throughout the book are tiny threads that bind these characters together – from Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago read by two separate characters at separate times, the visions of the Opera House and Circular Quay that each character experiences at different moments, to the ‘unbeachable gap’ between countri...

Apr 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Five Bells: A Novel

Journal Sentinel

But notwithstanding its titular homage to Kenneth Slessor's best-known poem, the loudest literary peal in "Five Bells" is for "Mrs. Dalloway," Woolf's great 1925 novel about the passage of time, the meaning of death and why - despite all the evidence against it - most of us choose life.

Mar 17 2012 | Read Full Review of Five Bells: A Novel

M/C Anderson

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Apr 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Five Bells: A Novel

Fancy Goods

The tiny world of Pei Xing, living out her life quietly in suburban Bankstown, is connected, through her tragic family past as a victim of China’s Cultural Revolution, to the great movements in world history.

Jan 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Five Bells: A Novel

Reader Rating for Five Bells
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