The Hiding Place
The Hiding Place
Grove/Atlantic, Paperback, 9780802138590, 282pp.
Publication Date: December 7, 2001
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