The Hiding Place
Bonjour, FTC: I bought it, much to my dismay. Can you hook me up with a refund?
Set in Cardiff, Wales in the 1960s, The Hiding Place is the story of the Gauci family. Frank Gauci is a Maltese immigrant with a gambling problem. On the day of his youngest daughter’s birth, Frank gambles away his restaurant to a local mobster. It is this youngest daughter, Dolores, who narrates the story.
Dolores begins the story with her return to her childhood home, where she awaits the arrival of her sisters. Dolores then goes back in time to tell the story of her family, full of hardship and abuse and emotional problems. Frank is a heartless father, selling off his daughters to cover debts and obtain advantageous business relationships. His wife, Mary, is at times an emotionally absent mother as she deals with her own problems. Their daughters grow up wild and troubled and abused.
Dolores claims to remember everything, including the circumstances of the house fire which caused her to be badly burned when she was a month old. Yet as the novel progresses it becomes evident that her observations may be shaded by a child’s interpretation of events. At this point in the novel, I became hopelessly confused (it all has to do with rabbits, and who did what to the bunnies) and I’ll admit to slogging through the last quarter of the book. I was hoping that it would all resolve itself, but by the end of the book I was just glad it was over. I had lost any sympathy I once had for Dolores, and the fate of each of the sisters really came as no surprise.
Of course, a more careful reader would probably pick up on some of the rabbit clues, but I just kept waiting for life to get better for the Gaucis. It never did.