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The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi
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The Hiding Place (2000)

by Trezza Azzopardi

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5001720,399 (3.47)97
  1. 10
    Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: The Hiding Place is often compared to Angela's Ashes. The settings and subject matter are indeed very similar; however, McCourt's book has a lot of humour written between the depressing bits. And the Hiding Place is more creative and literary. Two very different approaches to poverty in the British Isles.… (more)
  2. 10
    The Gathering by Anne Enright (mrstreme)
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English (16)  Dutch (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
So it seems that misery memoirs, not being awful enough in themselves, we now have misery fiction. I suppose the boundaries were always a bit blurred. Lets just call it all misery porn. ( )
  florasuncle | Jan 22, 2014 |
This book opened to me a community of immigrants of which I'd never heard. However, the cause of a family's destruction is the same as in many places, many times - addiction. The father's addiction drives the mother to acts of desperation, the pawning of one daughter who becomes lost to them forever, one who is married off to a man old enough to be her father, both done in order to close business deals due to the father squandering the family's money. The baby is scarred forever by a fire. Another daughter becomes an arsonist. A sad tale, but believable. ( )
  shesinplainview | Dec 30, 2012 |
LOVED this book. Very much like Angela's Ashes and The Glass House. So happy I took a chance on it. Like the books listed it isn't always a pleasant read but a look back at what makes a person who they are and their inner struggles. ( )
  jjnaaucoin | Aug 7, 2012 |
Very good book, reminiscent of Angela's Ashes but more current. The story is divided into two parts; part one takes place when Dolores is a child between ages 0 and about 4, while part two takes place when she is an adult coming back to her hometown to reunite with her sisters for her mother's funeral. The story of the tumultuous family life is told in a straight forward style with no "poor me" attitude. I really enjoyed it. ( )
  janiereader | Mar 15, 2012 |
This has been a lesson in reading for me. I attempted to read The Hiding Place in 2010, but chucked it at page 50. I couldn’t get into the story, and I found the writing style odd. I was bored, and despite all the rave reviews, and despite the Booker Prize and Orange Prize nominations, I just couldn’t get interested enough to make more effort. I gave the book away. But the person I gave it to brought it back and told me it was really very good, so I thought I’d better give it one more chance.

What a difference a change in mood and frame of mind makes. This time the story and the writing grabbed me right away. Azzopardi uses a complex structure and sophisticated style that demands the reader’s careful attention. But for that reader , the book is highly rewarding.

The main part of the story is set in 1960 in the Maltese immigrant community of Cardiff (who knew there even was one?), and most of the story is narrated by Dolores (Dol), the youngest of six daughters. Her mom was a working class Welsh girl who ran away and then met Dol’s father, who had jumped ship in Wales at the end of WWII. He’s ne’er do well, a gambler, and an all-round nasty individual. Theirs is an extremely dysfunctional family. Dad gambles away the rent money, Dol is disfigured in a house fire, one daughter is given away to settle a debt, one daughter is a pyromaniac, and mom suffers bouts of crippling depression (hmmm, I wonder why!). At age five, Dol’s family disintegrates permanently and she goes into foster care.

Most of the story is told by the now-adult Dol, as she tries to piece together the events of her traumatic early childhood and make sense of the bits of memories. This, of course, makes her a highly unreliable narrator, and I see Azzopardi using this as an experiment in memory. Part of this, and what is key to the novel, is the use of silences—what is not said is usually more important than what actually is said. With each revelation that Dol uncovers, the story shifts a little, building toward a version of what really happened . In the end, some questions are left unanswered, because, well, sometimes life’s like that.

Recommended for: This is a fabulous book for the reader who can pay attention and pick up on the subtleties. Also, you have to be in the mood for this grim world of grinding poverty (I know sometimes I’m not). Despite their bleak lives, Azzopardi treats her characters with dignity. And although the ending isn’t particularly depressing, it’s also not a hopeful feel good story. Because, well, sometimes life’s like that. ( )
3 vote Nickelini | Jan 24, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
“The Hiding Place” was nominated for last year’s Booker Prize, which went to “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood, a writer with whom Azzopardi shares some qualities: a prose style that’s somehow both impassioned and cool, and an ability to reveal her characters’ great suffering without asking us to pity them. There’s an aura of dignity around all of Azzopardi’s people, those, like Dolores, who manage to escape as well as those who don’t.
added by Nickelini | editSalon, Maria Russo (Jan 11, 2001)
 
Sharply written, full of crisp little vignettes and cameos, The Hiding Place could have done without its over-extended finale.
added by Nickelini | editThe Guardian, D J Taylor (Aug 26, 2000)
 
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For my mother
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Despite the fact that Carol Jackson has to sit in a pram, she and her mother are going out together, while mine is downstairs whispering with a perfumed woman in an animal skin.
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Wij zijn Celesta, Rosaria, Francesca, Luca en Dolores. Ik ben de laatste en net als bij Rose en Frans is mijn naam afgekort. Ik heet Dol. Dat is omdat mijn moeder ons dan tegelijk en één adem voor het ontbijt naar beneden kan roepen. Er is nog iemand, Marina, die na Celesta komt, maar die woont hier niet meer, wat ook goed is, want er zou geen plaats zijn voor haar.
Mijn vader heeft de grootste slaapkamer. Die heeft het Berghok, al is het helemaal geen berg.... Mijn slaapkamer staat vol met bedden. Het is net een slaapzaal. Er staat ook een oud vouwbed dat niet meer kan doen wat het hoort te doen. Het staat met zijn kant tegen de muur alsof het op een volgend kind wacht. Ik deel het grote bed met mijn moeder en mijn zusje Luca. p 10
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802138594, Paperback)

This exceptional novel about family, love, and the innocence and terror of childhood was one of the most applauded and auspicious debuts of the last year. Compared by reviewers to Angela's Ashes and Wuthering Heights, The Hiding Place was the only debut work to be shortlisted for England's prestigious Booker Prize -- in the company of Kazuo Ishiguro and Margaret Atwood -- and went on to become a universally praised U.S. national best-seller. Set in a Maltese immigrant community in Cardiff, Wales, and peopled with sharp-edged, luminously drawn characters, The Hiding Place is the story of Frankie Gauci, his wife, Mary, and their six daughters. With her "unusual gift for letting her characters' interior lives come forth" (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), Azzopardi chronicles Frankie's unforgivable betrayal: gambling away his family's livelihood and eventually the family itself. The Gaucis' story is seen through the eyes of Dolores, the youngest daughter and the embodiment of bad luck in her father's estimation, condemned to bear the mark of a family that is rapidly singeing at the edges. Dolores presents an unsparing portrayal of the fear and hopelessness of childhood amid grim poverty and neglect, of children growing up without safety nets and on sunken foundations. Sustained by a tightrope tension and a stark, youthful wisdom, The Hiding Place conjures the coarse sensuality of life among the docks, the smoky cafes and bars, the crumbling homes and gambling rooms of Tiger Bay. "Astonishing and iridescent" (The Times, London), The Hiding Place is a mesmerizing exploration of how family, like fire, can shift suddenly from something that provides light and warmth to a dangerous conflagration, sparing no one in its path. "A harrowing and remarkably self-assured first novel [that] possesses all the immediacy and emotional power of a memoir...." -- Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:18 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Dolores Gauci, the youngest daughter in a family of six, watches as her father gambles away the family's money and eventually their lives.

» see all 2 descriptions

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