On a radiant day in Sydney, four adults converge on Circular Quay, site of the iconic Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Crowds of tourists mix with the locals, enjoying the glorious surroundings and the play of light on water.
But each of the four carries a complicated history from elsewhere; each is haunted by past intimacies, 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 which chime and resonate, sharing mysterious patterns and symbols. But it is a fifth person, a child, whose presence at the Quay haunts the day and who will overshadow everything that unfolds. By night-time, when Sydney is drenched in a rainstorm, each life has been transformed.
Five Bells is a novel of singular beauty and power by one of Australia's most gifted novelists.
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A story peopled by achingly real characters, memorably related in delicate, ornate prose, and throbbing with loss - Independent on Sunday
Jones's writing has the intensity of a dream, and the pattern she makes of the characters' lives is beautiful, managing to combine tension with lyricism - The Times
Over the past decade Gail Jones has established herself as a significant presence in contemporary Australian fiction. Thoughtful, intelligent and intensely lyrical, Five Bells is likely to consolidate an already considerable literary reputation - Guardian
Powerful moments - Financial Times
Engaging and passionate - Aesthetica
Jones' writing style pays homage to many great writers of the past, but she adds her own creative twist to this engaging and passionate novel - Aesthetica
Gail Jones lives in Sydney and teaches at the University of Western Sydney. Her books have won numerous literary awards in Australia. She is the author of two collections of short stories and five novelsincluding Sixty Lights which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Dreams of Speaking which was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and longlisted for the Orange Prize, and Sorry which was longlisted for the Orange Prize.