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The Hiding Place A finalist for the prestigious Man Booker Prize The Hiding Place Welsh novelist Trezza Azzopardi's lyrical tale of an immigrant family in Cardiff has been compared to Frank McCourt's bleak stirring memoir Angela's Ashes But The Hiding Place need not hide behind any ready made comparisons; Azzopardi's astonishing tension filled debut stands assuredly on its own as a work of tremendous power and originality The Hiding Place is narrated by Dolores the youngest of six daughters born to a Maltese immigrant father and a Welsh mother With one hand permanently disfigured by a fire when she was only one month old the hand is beautifully described by the author as a closed white tulip standing in the rain; a cutoff creamy marble in the shape of a Saint; a church candle with its tears flowing down the bulb of wrist Dolores has always been treated as an outcast Her father Frankie Gauci is an incorrigible gambler who bets than he can afford to lose On the day Dolores is born he loses his half share of a cafeacute as well as the apartment above it where his family lives Everything in Frankie's life is potential currency including his family; he even sells his second oldest daughter Marina to gangster Joe Medora in exchange for a house and money to pay off his debts Dolores's mother Mary is driven to the edge of insanity as she watches the world around her collapse helpless to save even her children from her husband's vices At times The Hiding Place paints a phantasmagoric portrait of cruelty but Trezza Azzopardi's gracefully exacting prose saves her tale from becoming a shock fest of the sort you would expect on daytime television talk shows Azzopardi forges profundity through delicately interwoven double sided images rabbits that are the children's playthings until they are brutally slaughtered by their father; trunks rooms and cages that can either protect or ensnare; and most abundantly and most significantly fire which can warm as well as ravage Even Dolores's older sister Fran is sent away to a home for being a pyromaniac craving risk like her father gambling on how hot how high on how long she can bear it While some readers may wonder how Dolores is able to relate events that happened when she was so young it is easy to associate these stories with the phantom pains she feels in her missing fingers her ability to miss something she never knew The story comes to us in a dreamlike tapestry weaving together different times and perspectives Conseuently the narrative is fragmented leaving the reader with half tellings missing details stories that unfold only in the retelling and a sense that the only fact we can be certain of is the profound meaning she imparts through them The Hiding Place is as much a portrait of a family's destruction as it is an exploration of how memory bends and buckles under the weight of ruin and how blame can be twisted like a flame in draught; it will burn and burn

About the Author: Trezza Azzopardi

Trezza Azzopardi is a British writerShe was born in Cardiff to a Maltese father and a Welsh mother She studied creative writing at the University of East Anglia and currently works as a lecturer there She also has an MA in Film and Television studies from the University of DerbyHer first novel The Hiding Place was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2000 a significant accomplishment since

10 thoughts on “The Hiding Place

  1. says:

    We are discussing this book on Saturday for reading group so my thoughts may change after chatting about it and I'll let you knowI read this in a couple of days and found it really readable and engaging enough that I wanted to keep reading it and finding out what had happened I was drawn in by the style of the writing too which in the main I enjoyed I wasn't a huge

  2. says:

    This is an amazingly powerful novel about a struggling working class family in Cardiff Wales It begins in the early 60's and travels to the end of the nineties using the various horrifying revelations in the memory of Dolores the youngest sibling in a family of six daughters to move the tale forward Poverty immorality superstition mental illness and illiteracy set the stage

  3. says:

    I'm uite particular about family dramas I either love them or loathe them with little I between This however I adored The tale of the childhood of sisters brought up by a pair of runaway parents one from Malta one from the valleys is a wonderful evocative and occasionally emotionally wrought tale that looks at the lives of the working classes and how the memories of children can be

  4. says:

    Not an easy read due to the way the story is laid out and jumps around so much Also a lot of characters to try to keep straight By the ending I was not at all sure what exactly had happened to the main character Maybe I need to re read portions of it but don't really want to

  5. says:

    I couldn't decide whether to give this a three or a four star rating I went with three stars but it would be accurate to say 35 Anyway this is a very dark but well written book and since I appreciate good writing I enjoyed the book for that alone The story reminded me of Angela's Ashes but I liked it much than I did that bookThe family in the story is very poor and the mother can't cope with the ho

  6. says:

    I studied this as part of course at uni we were covering contemporary literature which involved having the writers who just so happen to teach at UEA coming and talking to us about a novel of their own and a novel by another author that inspired them although Trezza Azzopardi chose not to do this Anyway although I found Azzopardi herself very interesting and engaged with many of her ideas and themes such as m

  7. says:

    This novel is uite extraordinary; a compelling read I found it by accident while on holiday when I really needed a new book and ended up reading it through the night and finally saying 'wow' I had intuited how it would end but that didn't make me less impressed by it The way the author structured the novel is impressive and I think it was her very first It feels very autobiographical and if it's not then it is truly i

  8. says:

    What an entrance The first time anybody heard of Trezza Azzopardi she was nominated for one of the world's most prestigious literary awards Nestled among books by Kazuo Ishiguro and Margaret Atwood there sat The Hiding Place a first novel by a recent graduate student up for this year's Booker Prize English bookstores scrambled to find copies Readers in the US were locked out while publishers bid on the domestic rights Grateful

  9. says:

    The plot had potential but the writing style made it painfully slow often boring and in the end confusing This is the story of a family set in the background of Maltese immigrants in Cardiff Not actually knowing that background myself many of the settings reminded me of the Godfather or the Sopranos The parents Frankie and Mary go through some hard times and aren't very successful taking care of their six girls and so it's often the co

  10. says:

    I've wanted to read this book for ages not just because it got good reviews and was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 2000 but because I'm Maltese so it follows that I'm very interested in anyone of Maltese descent who is a successful writerI had read some excellent reviews of this when it first came out so I had very high expectations I did enjoy the sensuous use of language and the author's talent for evoking the sense of place and time but

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