13 March 2012

Today's Imprint Read: Five Bells by Gail Jones

Can your life change in a single day? Three women and one man—two former lovers and two strangers, each with unresolved feelings from a past personal trauma—are drawn to Sydney Harbor. Lost in their own thoughts, each sees something different in the lines and curves of the opera house, and each seeks a way to move past memory to embrace the future.

Circular Quay: she loved even the sound of it.

Before she saw the bowl of bright water, swelling like something sexual, before she saw the blue, unprecedented, and the clear sky sloping upwards, she knew from the lilted words it would be a circle like no other, key to a new world. . . .

There was confusion at first, the shock of sudden light, all the signs, all the clamour. But the vista resolved and she saw before her the row of ferry ports each looking like a primary-colour holiday pavilion, and the boats, bobbing, their green and yellow forms toy-like, arriving absorbing slow lines of passengers, departing. With a trampoline heart. she saw the Bridge to her left: its modern shape, its optimistic uparching. Familiar from postcards and television commercials, here now, here-now, was the very thing itself, neat and enthralling. There were tiny flags on top and the silhouetted ant forms of people arduously climbing the steep bow. It looked stamped against the sky, as if nothing could remove it. (p. 1)
Five Bells, by Gail Jones (Picador 2012)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Sydney Harbor (the opera house) on a single Saturday
  • Circumstances: modern times, four people alone in a crowd
  • Characters: Ellie, obsessed with a girlhood sexual experience; James, haunted by a personal tragedy; Pei Xing scarred by a political imprisonment; Catherine, burdened by the early death of a brother
  • Themes: forgiveness, memory, loss, transformation
  • Genre: literary fiction
  • Awards: shortlisted for Victorian Premier's Literary Award for the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction (2011) ; a top-ten pick for 2012 from Christian Science Monitor
Want to Know More? Watch Laura Kroetsch introduce Gail Jones and Five Bells at Adelaide Writers Week (embedded video). Visit the Picador website to find the book summary and a reading guide. To learn more about author Gail Jones check out this interview at Fancy Goods. For more on Picador and for news about events and great books, visit their website, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Five Bells at Powell's
Five Bells at Book Depository
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(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 3/13/12, 6:48 AM  

I do like the sound of this one. I love stories where secrets are slowly revealed.

Sandy Nawrot 3/13/12, 7:42 AM  

Sounds like a very introspective character study. Jury is out on whether this would appeal to me or not. I don't always do well with these types of books!

Laurel-Rain Snow 3/13/12, 8:14 AM  

Oh, I love the sound of this one. Thanks for sharing...


Beth Hoffman 3/13/12, 8:31 AM  

This one has definitely grabbed my attention.

Julie P. 3/13/12, 9:18 AM  

I agree with Beth. This might be one for me!

Martha @ Hey, I want to read that 3/13/12, 10:50 AM  

This sounds like my kind of book. I haven't read many stories taking place in Australia, it would be interesting.

Zibilee 3/13/12, 11:33 AM  

Love this teaser! I particularly like how detailed the author is in her descriptions. Very cool post today!

Barbara 3/13/12, 2:20 PM  

I'm due for a good literary fiction and this sounds like the one for me.

Amy 3/13/12, 2:31 PM  

This does sound like a really interesting book! I haven't read many books set in Australia and there's something so intriguing about the opera house.

bermudaonion 3/13/12, 2:39 PM  

This sounds wonderful!!

Nise' 3/13/12, 3:44 PM  

Definitely my kind of book.

Heather 3/13/12, 4:33 PM  

That is quite a beginning! My teaser

Marg 3/13/12, 4:50 PM  

I heard Jones speak at Melbourne Writers Festival last year and very nearly bought the book on that basis alone. I am not sure, however, that I would actually enjoy the book so I am waiting to see a few more reviews before I do. Your thoughts today nearly have me convinced.

Tina 3/14/12, 12:02 AM  

I have this sitting on my Nook from NetGalley....you just bumped it up in the queue by reminding me of why I requested it in the first place.

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