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28 Reviews
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did I live this in another life?
Trezza Azzopardi's first book is a raw collection of memories of what today would be called a dysfunctional childhood, but in the '60s was the familys' own business. I don't know if this is a sign of good writing, but although I have never been to Malta, or Cardiff for that matter, I felt as though I had lived exactly the life that the author describes. Some of the...
Published on 18 July 2001

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Terrific debut, terrific writing but didn't enthrall me
I really wanted to read and enjoy this book. The writing was, as promised quite outstanding and admirable in its quality, but for me that's all it was. I got to page 44 and I was exhausted - and I mean exhausted - by the sheer over-writing. The pace of the prose was like one of Frankie's racehorses, never giving the reader time to draw breath or contemplate any sort...
Published on 2 July 2001


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did I live this in another life?, 18 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Hiding Place (Paperback)
Trezza Azzopardi's first book is a raw collection of memories of what today would be called a dysfunctional childhood, but in the '60s was the familys' own business. I don't know if this is a sign of good writing, but although I have never been to Malta, or Cardiff for that matter, I felt as though I had lived exactly the life that the author describes. Some of the recollections are truly shocking and yet I was not shocked, it seemed part of the life the reader was involved in, albeit a million miles from my own life. Interwoven were subtle references that made sense of what had already been read, making a sudden, sometimes stomach wrenching sense.It may be a cliche, but I truly could not put this book down until I had finished and I cannot imagine Trezza Azzopardi having any more in her to share with us, I can only hope she does.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book, couldn't put it down. Eagerly awaiting more, 11 Dec. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Hiding Place (Paperback)
This was a lucky find in the book shop.Attracted by the black and white cover picturing three of the girls, and the brief description, I discovered a book that I enjoyed immensely. I loved the way the book built up towards the end and then came back to the present to answer some of the issues left open. It also left me shifting through the information in my head to piece together everything I had read - to me, this is the sign of a really good book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A SUPERB DEBUT, 23 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Hiding Place (Hardcover)
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.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Terrific debut, terrific writing but didn't enthrall me, 2 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Hiding Place (Paperback)
I really wanted to read and enjoy this book. The writing was, as promised quite outstanding and admirable in its quality, but for me that's all it was. I got to page 44 and I was exhausted - and I mean exhausted - by the sheer over-writing. The pace of the prose was like one of Frankie's racehorses, never giving the reader time to draw breath or contemplate any sort of reflection of the characters. There is no doubt that Trezza can write up a storm, but surely literary fiction has to be a combination of styles, thoughts, reflections and speeds. The work has been compared to Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and I can appreciate the comparison, but Kate allowed the prose to alter and reflect in the 'footnotes' sections in order to slow the pace down. Kate also manages to inject amazing humour in her story of the dysfunctional family, as does Frank McCourt in Angela's Ashes. Sorry to be negative, but one must be honest and speak as you find, no matter how much the pundits applaud.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily the best of the shortlist...., 4 Nov. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Hiding Place (Hardcover)
This book is heart rending, terrifying and soul crushingly beautiful. I have had the experience of visiting an abandoned home I lived in as a child, now an adult and wondering where all the memories are now. What happened to lead to the diaspora?
Azzopardi blends mesmerizing prose with inspired storytelling to confront some of the most nightmarish places in the human soul. She wickedly captures the difference between a child's experience and an adult's recollection.
This book sears you. Unless you're ready to be brought into the flame, don't read it. I can only pray she can duplicate the quality of this effort.
The only other member of the shortlist with a prayer to compete is Atwood's book, and frankly, it isn't close. Azzopardi blows away Kneale and O'Doherty and Collins and Ishiguro. The paperback version of this book should have "winner of the Booker Prize" stamped proudly on its cover. It deserves it. Booker prize winners should leave you breathless, gasping, searching around for someone to give the book to so you can share it with them, both for their edification and selfishly, so that you will have a person with whom to exorcize the emotions. This is such a book. And when I finished it, I immediately gave it to my friend, and then awoke in the middle of the night wanting it back so I could begin it again.
Superlatives fail me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Haunting and Evocative Novel, 12 Aug. 2011
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Hiding Place (Paperback)
I don't know why I haven't come across this book before, but I'm very glad that I found this whilst browsing on Amazon. `The Hiding Place' is an amazing debut novel which was deservedly shortlisted for the 2000 Booker Prize and is about a Maltese/Welsh working class family living in Cardiff (and almost on the bread-line) in the 1960s. The novel reveals a world with which most of us will be unfamiliar - however, with the use of sensitive prose and simple, descriptive language, Azzopardi brings her scenes brilliantly to life. The author's descriptions of the main character's (Dolores) experiences and feelings are truly haunting and resonating, and the sections of the book where Dolores returns much later to the family home and sifts through her memories, are painfully good.

This book is not a cosy read and, if you like your fiction neat and comfortable, you might not like this. However, if you want your reading material to be well written and thought-provoking and you want a book which resonates with feeling, please try this. I was so impressed that, even though I have many books on my shelves waiting to be read, I have just ordered Azzopardi's second book: Remember Me; it will need to be very good to follow `The Hiding Place', but somehow I don't think I shall be disappointed.

5 Stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and unresolved, 30 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Hiding Place (Paperback)
A story one hopes wouldn't happen today-Dolores is one of five daughters of a Maltese immigrant living in Cardiff who is subject to terrible abuse by her father and not protected by her mother,or those around her who are aware but seemingly accept the violence within the family.
The story is told mostly by Dolores as a child but supplemented by the adult Dolores who returns to the family home on the death of her mother.As a child many things are not apparent to Dolores and I felt there were too many revelations tagged on to the end of the story by the adult Dol to fill in the gaps.
Many questions are left unanswered-what happened to Dol when she was taken away from the family that has enabled her to come to terms to what happened to her,where are the missing family members?
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It left me cold, 4 Jun. 2001
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Hiding Place (Paperback)
Try as I might, I just can't see what all the fuss is about. This book was short-listed for the Booker Prize 2000, and has had rave reviews. I found it slightly annoying: florid language, and pretentious layout (with no quotation marks for speech and odd indentation). Needless to say, as seems to be required for "serious" literature these days, it's written in the present tense. I wasn't moved by any of the characters. The story jumps about, but too much was missing between the present and the past. The first, longer, part describes Dol's childhood in Cardiff in the 60s. The second part describes a family reunion 30 years later. I am clearly a voice in the wilderness here, though.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just finished, 22 Nov. 2001
By 
das1@lineone.net (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hiding Place (Paperback)
Just completed this strange novel. I enjoyed the story even though it was hearbreaking. The characters were very well drawn and there are quite a lot of them. One aspect of the book is that I thought it tied up the story very well at the end, but now knowing how the characters turn out I really want to read the book again, and pick up all the subtle characterisation clues which I missed in my rush to find their destiny. But the point is that I never re-read books, so s this book very different, or am I just getting lazy ?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful but sad book, 31 July 2007
By 
Love Books "Jessie" (Durham, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: The Hiding Place (Paperback)
Trezza Azzopardi was recommended to me by a colleague, this is the first of her books that I've read and I found it a gripping, beautifully-written read. It's a shocking, terribly sad story but there's a redemptive ending. I don't like the current rash of books of memoirs of children with horrific childhoods, but this is something quite different. Having been disappointed with this summer's offering of 'must-reads' (most of which you really don't have to), this book restored me and reminded me how powerful really good writing can be.
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The Hiding Place
The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi (Paperback - 4 May 2001)
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