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Posted May 29, 2010
This is a startling revelation about abusive behavior on all levels which sheds a light on all kinds of unequal justice as well. If such things coexist, it has to make one wonder if someone is watching over us.
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Poverty, immorality, superstition, mental illness and illiteracy set the stage for abuse, neglect, dysfunction and deprivation that defies the imagination. Each successive memory is progre...more 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 progressively worse than the one preceding it.
This book will have a profound effect on the reader. This is not a book one will easily forget as it exposes the wounded family with all of its fatal flaws; the children and the parents are all scarred by something. There is physical abuse, human trafficking in which a child is bartered into slavery, another sent to foster care, another beaten brutally, another permanently injured in tragic circumstances, all tortured by each other in one way or another, as well as by society. Even those that escape the environment bear the marks and damage of memories they try to suppress.
The depths to which some will sink in order to survive, for purely selfish reasons, will astound the reader. The inability of others to live and/or fulfill their natural family obligations, as they are thwarted by life's haphazard circumstances, will pain the reader. They cannot find a way out of their circumstances so their dreams and/enormous obligations remain unfulfilled. Their stories will keep one turning pages.
Ignorance and superstition stifled and destroyed many lives. This book opens a window onto their suffering. If you read it, you will not be sorry, although you will surely be extremely saddened to learn of the hopelessness that existed for these characters at so many stages of their lives.
The one part of the book that disturbed me deeply, was that the kindest, often unjustly, suffered the most, while the guilty often escaped punishment, although their actions caused monumental suffering for others. Perhaps that is true to life, unfortunately; the guilty often do get away unscathed leaving a trail of misery in their wake.
Posted January 28, 2005
Wow- completely different from anything else I've ever read
This novel was excellent. I don't even know how to explain its depth. Although at the beginning it was a little harder to keep tabs on what was going on, the second half of the novel had me on edge. It has the right amount of ambiguity to leave one wondering, and it captures vivid enough pictures of poverty and family destructiveness that even readers that know little of these conditions will find it easy to commiserate with the characters. One feels as if he or she is in the very shoes of Dolores, confused and surprised by the secret revelations that the family kept under wraps.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 4, 2001
A dazzling literary maiden voyage
Still reading it, I love the authentic tang of it, even though it's foreign to me in many ways. As a first novel, I found it extraordinarily incisive, powerful, and a lot of other praiseful adjectives I don't have at my command. I can't wait to see how it ends.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 20, 2001
First Time Novelist Hits Gold
The novel begins with our narrator, the adult Dolores, telling us about a moment in her childhood when she was 5 looking out of the upstairs window watching for her father to return home from the betting shop. She is supposed to warn her mother when she sees him so that Mary can shepherd her friend and neighbor Eva out the back door. It will not be until the very end of the novel that we learn the special significance of these moments of watching. And it is only then that we will learn the significance of the title. The novel tells a harrowing tale of about 5 years in the life of a Welsh-Maltese family, the Gauci's. The voice of the narrator is obviously an adult's voice but much of the novel is written in the first person tense of a 5 year old. The author is playing tricks here with tense and voice that we will not understand completely until Part Two of the novel. Obviously a 5 year old cannot fashion such lush prose, but we will see that the 5 year old doesn't have to when her older counterpart can reminisce. But the tricks and traps of memory are one of the prime undercurrents in the novel that can be missed due to the compelling narrative flow. Azzopardi cuts back and forth in time creating the illusion of a past that is as present as it is gone. It takes an especially sensitive voice to tell this story of dispair and heartbreak without falling into sentimentality. Azzopardi never gets sentimental and in fact, manages to find moments of sly humor. Never at the expense of her characters, but she finds humor in the way that Shakespeare found a way to say some his profoundest thoughts in his comedies. You would think that with 6 children, a mother and father, a friend and neighbors, enough characters populate this novel. But we are not overwhelmed by the proliferation of characters because each one if given special, if brief, attention. Eva is personified by her ocelot coat. The Jackson woman across the street by her disapproving stare. It is a technique used brilliantly by D.H. Lawrence in his book of short stories, 'Twilight in Italy'. The narrative drive is compelling and this is a book that you want to read and keep reading. You are transported into a world that is tough but so beautifully rendered you do not want to leave it. Part of sheer joy of reading this novel is the glorious writing. One can find evidence of a fresh perspective on metaphor and image on almost every page. While this novel is not for the faint of heart, nor for the casual reader, it does us the great service of trusting us. Pay careful attention to the details and read the book in as few sittings as possible because you will miss too much if you try to dip into this book at bedtime. Details are important and while the story can be appreciated on many levels, including as a family mystery, its full resonance will only come with careful attention. A remarkable novel made all the more remarkable by its being a first novel. Such assurance and subtly is usually the mark of a more experienced writer. I eagerly await the next one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 14, 2001
hard scrable life make a poigant memoir memoir
when the author depicts her life from the perpective of the day she was born the reader knows right from the beginning this is no tale featuring winnie the pooh.indeed most of tessa apozardis first novel make frank mccourt childhood seem happy.the narrator is he youngest daughter of a abusive gambling father and a depressed mother. evev the other siblings in this debut novel are creul.all the poverty aside the reader keeps turning page after page hoping agaainst hope that dolores will overcome the seemingly overwhelming odds .in the second half of the novel when the charactos return for their mothers funeral we are hoping for redemption for dolores aand her sisters.however this is not acinderrella story so the most we can expect is to some insight into another human beings life.after all isnt that what we are seeking to gain through literature and in that the author doesnt dissapoint.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 23, 2001
A TRENCHANT, SUPERBLY CRAFTED DEBUT
British first-time novelist Trezza Azzopardi stuns with her accomplished portrait of childhood deprivation, a terrain where want goes begging and kindness is stillborn. With a rundown immigrant enclave in Cardiff, Wales, as its setting, The Hiding Place is the story of the Gauci family. Father Frankie, whose 'love is Chance' is a Maltese seaman. A selfish, unrepentant child abuser and thief, he values an inherited ruby ring more than his daughters whom he barters for a stake. His wife, Mary, the mother of six girls, is sometimes forced to sell herself for rent money. Madness is her escape from an intolerable existence. Related in the voice of the youngest child, Dolores, the saga of this family causes readers to ponder the vagaries of birth and life's inequities. As adults, each daughter is haunted by a painful past, days in which their diversions were hopscotch in a dusty alley or inflicting cruelty upon one another until they are relegated to foster care. Ms. Azzopardi's evocation of the littered byways and musty bars of a small dockside community is flawless, as are her portraits of those we meet there. A finalist for the coveted Booker Prize, The Hiding Place is a trenchant, superbly crafted tragedy. It is a bleak but dazzling book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 2, 2012
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