The Hiding Place
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The Hiding Place

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  892 ratings  ·  98 reviews
My father has stopped for now, although, like most of the other Maltese, he won't settle in the city— he can't escape the salt-scent of the docks.

Tiger Bay, Cardiff, 1948. Frank Gauci steps off the Callisto into the coldest winter ever, clutching a cardboard suitcase. It's all he has, until he finds a ruby ring, Joe Medora, and Mary.


When Frankie and his best friend Salvato

...more
Published by Picador (first published 2000)
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Sian Lile-Pastore
We are discussing this book on Saturday for reading group, so my thoughts may change after chatting about it and I'll let you know.

I 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 fan on the structure of the book - going back and forth in time - and found the second part of the book where the main characte...more
thewanderingjew
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 for abuse, neglect, dysfunction and deprivation that defies the imagination. Each successive memory is progressivel...more
Diane
I couldn't decide whether to give this a three or a four star rating. I went with three stars, but it would be more accurate to say 3.5. 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 more than I did that book.

The family in the story is very poor, and the mother can't cope with the horrible situation in which she finds herself with five daughters to care for an...more
Lisa
I started this months ago and put it down. My first reaction was that it is dark - it almost feels as if it is written in a minor key. The mostly third-person voice and limited dialogue create a moody, lonely context. All of which add up to my reaction that it is very well crafted - impressive that it can be so evocative ... but I don't like the feelings it evokes so I was hesitant to keep reading. As I persevere though I am realizing the voice of Dol (the only first-person narrative?) and the f...more
Ailsa
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 memory, reconstructing the past etc), I really struggled to stay involved with...more
☮Karen
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.
Holly
This drama did a remarkable job of describing the breakdown of a family. Everything rang true--the characters, their interactions with one another, and especially the casual cruelty and deep protectiveness among siblings.
Samantha Allen
God this book was sad. I almost lost it reading the final scene on the bus. I'm pretty sure the guy next to me was a bit worried about all the sniffling and eye-dabbing and the way I kept my gaze fixed pointedly out the window.

The structure of this book was sort of weird and is something I think I need to contemplate a bit more. It's all in present tense, which also feels strange, because the story is made up primarily of Dol's memories, which don't seem like memories but more like immediate ev...more
Jayne Charles
Reading this I felt throughout that the author was writing from the subconscious rather than the thesaurus. It was like connecting with someone’s abstract thoughts at a very high level. I could not fault the writing, or the underlying meaning with which every word seemed loaded. My enjoyment of the writing was tempered, though, by the fact that I often had no idea what was going on. The story is strikingly similar to ‘The Gathering’ by Anne Enright (a book that left me similarly perplexed). A fa...more
Ron Charles
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. Gratefully, Atlantic Monthly Press, the most discerning publisher o...more
Devil
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 community that has to do it for them. While I liked some o...more
Marci
Trezza Azzopardi was nominated for the prestigious international Booker award for her first novel: The Hiding Place. Set in a 1960s immigrant enclave in Cardiff, Wales, The Hiding Place is told from the point of view of the youngest daughter in a Maltese family, Dol, short for Dolores. The family is brutalized by their boorish, selfish father,Frankie, a man who never wanted Dol, nor really any of his six daughters who, in Frankie's mind, surely should have been sons if they were to be of any val...more
Christina
It's hard to believe that this astonishingly accomplished lyrical account of loss upon loss -- "Children burnt and children bartered: someone must be to blame" -- is a first novel. Against a drizzly backdrop of Cardiff docklands in the process of demolition, Dolores Gauci, the sixth girl born to a brutal, ne'er-do-well Maltese father and a neglectful, adulterous Welsh mother, untangles skeins of memory, story, and speculation to try to find the threads that tie together her burnt left hand, her...more
Nicola
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 writer.

I 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 I nevertheless had a few rather childish issues...more
02emilyn
The main issue this book addresses is that the girl's father takes all the money and leaves. Another big thing is that her mother gets sick and dies. Almost all her sisters leave home for some reason, so she and Rose are left alone. Eventually they end up leaving

If it wasn't in the time and place it was in the book wouldn't be as freaky. If it were in our day and age, it wouldn't be too bad at all. The place is a poor place, if they had more money it'd be easier.

The protagonist is Dolores. She...more
Erika
The Hiding Place is divided into two parts; part one takes place when Dol is a child between ages 0 and about 4, while part two takes place when Dol is an adult coming back to her hometown to reunite with her sisters for the first time is several years for her mother's funeral. It's written in a very confusing style. Several of the sentences are fragments, the spoken words are not in quotations, and sometimes I am unaware of who is speaking each line. However, if you can get past the book stru...more
Fran
This was a dark book by a wonderful writer. I loved the first section as told both through the voice of Dolores as a child and through an ironical god-like perspective. Dolores is one of six children growing up poor in Cardiff in the sixties with a gambler and callous guy for a father and a mother stretched thin with her 6 girls and unreliable and often crazed husband. Partly about memory and how it shifts, and how differently life/same "situations" can be experienced.
Michelle
This is a heartbreaking novel. For me, it is right up there with Angela's Ashes. Yes, the characters aren't fully explored; no - we don't get to share the feeling's of the parents. What we do see is the story of a broken family told from the perspective of the youngest daughter. I wanted to protect this character; to tell her that it would be alright. The sad part it that telling her that would be a lie...and she would know it. A modern tragedy.
Losososdiane
Beautifully written tale of what poverty and ignorance can do to a family. The author evokes vivid images of a life that is not safe because those things that bring feelings of caring and love swiftly and suddenly turn into nightmares of pain and danger, both emotional and physical. The story is difficult to follow because it is fragmented and comes from the perspective of the youngest child. As a reader, you just have to hold on and read on with the confidence that the author will bring all of...more
G
I've been making an effort to read each of the Booker Prize nominees for this year - this was the second I picked up.
Within the first ten pages I was greatly impressed by Azzopardi's use of language and the flow of her sentences. By page twenty I was enthralled by the characters and the narrative. By the time I finished "The Hiding Place" I was as moved as any novel I have ever been fortunate to lay my hands on.

This is a tremendous novel that I cannot say enough about. The story of Dol and the...more
Liz Moffett
As much as I struggled reading this book, I ended up being glad I didn't put it down and finished it. The writing is disjointed, dialogue in the book just bleeds into the other text as the author doesn't use parenthesis, so it was really difficult to follow at times. But the story of the break down of a dysfunctional family is heartbreaking, depressing and worth the read.
Emily
I wanted to like this more than I did. I think my main problem with the story is I often had no idea what was going on. After finishing it, I'm still confused on a lot of the plot points and I think it has mostly to do with the way the author decided to style the writing. I don't really love novels without punctuation, I'm not opposed to them, and I can certainly grasp dialogue when I read it, but......I don't know, I just found myself too often confused, having to re-read to make sure I knew wh...more
Katie Mar
Liked it and read it quickly but didn't really understand the ending...like something significant was supposed to be revealed but I didn't see the significance?
Carol
This novel is told more or less from the point of view of Dolores, the youngest of six daughters born to a desperately poor Maltese family living in the slums of Tiger Bay section of Cardiff. Dolores' father Frankie is an often abusive gambler and her mother Mary tries to maintain the family but is often neglectful. The girls' relationships to each other as they grow up are complex, mingling cruelty with connection. The book is filled with things seen and experienced but only half understood and...more
Mary Lou
Frank and Mary Gauci live with their six young daughters in the Tigers Bay area of Cardiff-mostly in poverty as Frank gambles away everything they ever get. The story is told by the youngest daughter Dolores and Part 1 covers their childhood in 1960s and Part 2, when the girls meet again 30 years on.

This is a disturbing and sad account of a family break up. The real extent of their father's cruelty and their mother's inability to cope with it, much less protect her children is revealed in the se...more
Brooke
An interesting book about a Maltese family living in Wales in the 60's. This was a sad book about a poor family with six girls and the toll that gambling takes on their lives. It is written from the perspective of the youngest daughter, Dolores and was a finalist for the Booker prize. Although the lives of these girls is tragic, it is written in such a way that it is hard to feel empathy for them, which was a little disappointing and I am not sure how I feel about the ending. It seemed to be inc...more
Tori Whitby
This is a hard book to wrap time-frame around, very jumpy and scattered. After about 25 pages I had to stop and read the reviews again just to grasp the bigger picture of the book...one peticularly was helpful suggesting that the story is told in the point of view of the different sisters simutaneously. and at different ages all mixed up... sounds confussing try reading,,,maybe the second time is better on this one. reviews compared this book to angela's ashes: I don't agree, it was confusing an...more
Sarah
Wow -this book was interesting. It was gripping to me in how real the characters were portrayed. I honestly feel like these people exist somewhere. The overall feel of these characters lives, the port town they live in, the choices the parents make (and the huge impact it has on the children), not to mention having the youngest tell the story - made it compelling to me. It was my transport to a different world. I only wish it had been a happier world. So, if you're looking for a pick-me-up, this...more
Sandy
this is a brutal and haunting book, narrated by the youngest child in a family of six girls. Her father is an obsessive gambler in the dark underworld of Cardiff, Wales in the 60's, 'selling' two of his daughters in exchange for debt-forgiveness and money. Her mother is a desperate woman struggling to get her family by while unable to leave the vile person who is her husband. Young Dolores' narration of this vicious, ruthless and heartless life is an absolute gem. Her tale is told in staccato bi...more
Nancy
This is one of those well-written books about an abusive family in the 1960s in Cardiff (Wales, I think?) with an abusive, gambling dad, mentally ill mom, blah, blah, blah of the type that I'm just too jaded to get anything out of anymore. There's not a whole lot in the way of plot, more like little epiphanies and memories. Certainly individual scenes are nice, and the prose is very polished, but I never got invested enough to really care what was happening. I blame the scores of similarly theme...more
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Trezza Azzopardi is a British writer.

She 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 Derby.

Her first novel, The Hiding Place, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2000 (a significant accomplishment, since...more
More about Trezza Azzopardi...
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