But the presiding spirit, never explicitly acknowledged but implicated at every turn, is Virginia Woolf. Ellie is a postgraduate student from Western Australia who has come to Sydney to do a PhD in literary studies.
What, pray tell, the fuck. This is perhaps most obviously the case with Pei Xing, whose search for a way of living with her past has led her to not just reconcile with one of her tormentors, but to care for her.
Today is her first visit to the Harbour, part of her discovery of the New World to which she has moved: Catherine loved Australian accents, the way they rasped in the air. Apart from Ellie and James, these characters do not know each other but there are fleeting moments when their lives intersect.
Although James and Ellie have arranged to meet, the encounters between most of the characters are both fleeting and coincidental. The greatest strength of Five Bells lies in its clever use of place to draw out the nuances of character.