Sunday, 19 August 2012

Book Review: Five Bells By Gail Jones

The title five bells sounds poetic. Or at least thats the only word I can think of to describe it. Which leads me to question my writing abilities. Haha dont be silly Dylan, you dont have any writing abilities. You can barely spell.

Ok but seriously, even if the title isnt exactely poetic, the story is. Five bells is an Australian novel, about 4 peoples lives. Each of these people go to see the Opera house in Sydney, on a Saturday morning. The story is contained within this day, but the memories that each individual has, extends the ideas and events to many years. In this way, the events that actually happen are not important in comparision to the memories that the characters conjure up. Its in these memories that we see what I believe is the main intention of the writer. To explore and to show trauma, and the different types and reactions of it. Each character has had someone close to them die, and although this death may have happened a long period ago. It still lingers in their thoughts, and even in their actions.

The novel was inspired by Kenneth Slessors poem, of the same name. The poem is depressing and mournful, and this is reflective of the novel. However, it isnt just a sad story, in which people feel sad because they have lost someone. Life is more than just trauma; and this is what the author Gail Jones also tries to show.

One of the things that is also present in the text, are the intertextual references. The novel mentions 'On Raglan Road' by Patrick Kavanagh, and also 'Doctor Zhivago' by Boris Pasternak. It also describes the life of Rene Magritte, as well as his painting, 'The Lovers'. These references to stories and works of art, help the reader to further frame the story, and to understand the characters more. Although if you havent read 'Doctor Zhivago' or seen 'The Lovers', you wont be left in the dust.

                                                       The Lovers By Rene Magritte

My favourtie thing about the novel was how lyrical it was, and how elegantly many of the memories
were told.

My least favourite thing was that because there was a focus on trauma, and so many main characters, there was a lack of connection the people in the stories. I felt strangely more connected to the trauma, than with the characters facing this trauma.

However I felt as though this was indeed the writers intention, and so because she managed to make this happen, and created this enjoyable piece of australian literature. Im going to give 4 out of 5 for 'Five Bells' by Gail Jones.

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