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Trezza Azzopardi was born in Cardiff and lives in Norwich. She is the author of The Hiding Place, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2000, and Remember Me.
June 2010 Good Housekeeping selection. The fourth novel from Welsh author Trezza Azzopardi, The Song House combines lyricism with a compelling slowburner of a plot. When mousey Maggie takes on the job of cataloguing the music collection of local eccentric Kenneth Earl, a menacing connection from the past comes to the fore – and the story builds into an exhilarating climax.
With an introduction by D J Taylor My father would have flipped a coin and watched his fate come twirling down to earth. Dolores is the youngest of six daughters. Growing up in the 1960s in Cardiff's poverty stricken Tiger Bay, her life is cursed from the start when, on the day of her birth, her father gambles and loses everything on a bet that Delores will be a boy. As Dolores grows older, we see this strange underworld through her eyes: Tiger Bay is a place of gaming rooms and cafes, of crumbling houses and burning secrets, and for Dolores and her sisters, their home is a dangerous place, filled equally by fear and love. Thirty years later, the estranged sisters return to Tiger Bay for their mother's funeral. It is a time of consolation, of memories and nightmares, and a chance for Dolores to understand the tragedy that has shaped her existence. The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi is a deeply moving and intensely lyrical novel about love and betrayal. Shortlisted for the 2000 Booker Prize, it portrays the life of a child condemned forever to bear the mark of a disintegrating family.
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2000 'Fans of Kate Atkinson and Andrea Ashworth will love this. Read it and weep.' Mirror This brilliant first novel is set in the Maltese community of Tiger Bay in Cardiff where the author grew up. Dolores, the narrator tells the story of her childhood - her father, Frankie, a compulsive gambler who, due to a misunderstanding at the moment of her birth (he is convinced that his wife will finally give birth to a boy after a multitude of daughters) loses everything to his rival Joe Medora, head of the Maltese Mafia. Frankie's gambling leads to the fire which disfigures Dolores. There is a terrifyingly vivid scene as Dolores remembers watching her hand being burnt in the fire that destroys their home and the moment when Joe claims one of Frankie's daughters as his own. The author evokes the world of Dolores and her family with brilliant power and sensitivity. The novel flits between past and present as Dolores reflects on her childhood and the lives that her father created for himself and his children.
Lillian would say she's no trouble, content to let the days go by, minding her own business and bothering no one. She'd rather not recall the past and, at 72, doesn't see much point in thinking too much about the future. But when her closed existence is suddenly shattered by a random act of violence committed by a young girl, Lillian is catapulted abruptly out of her exile. Robbed of everything she owns, she embarks on a journey to find the thief -- but soon finds that what began as a search for stolen belongings has in fact become about the rediscovery of a stolen life.
When Kenneth Earl realises his memory is failing, he advertises for someone to help him catalogue his vast collection of music, and so create a record of his life. Maggie, the final candidate, is his last hope. But he doesn't guess, when he gives her the job, that the archive will be as much about her past as his -- because this isn't the first time that Maggie has been to Earl House, and it's no coincidence that she applied for the post . . . `Slowly, and in Azzopardi's melodic, lyrical prose the secrets of Maggie's childhood are revealed, full of loss and longing, unfaithful loves and bad choices' Marie Claire `Not just a good read, but a fireworks display of true talent. A Fred and Ginger extravaganza - and an unforgettable dance' The Scotsman `Azzopardi is an accomplished writer, beautifully weaving the past into the present until her words literally sing off the page' Stylist magazine Book of the Week
This is a novel about the lies we tell, the secrets we don't, and the stories that result. When Kenneth Earl advertises for someone to help him catalogue his vast collection of music, Maggie - the final candidate - is his last hope. What he doesn't know, however, is that this isn't the first time that Maggie has been to Earl House, and it's no coincidence that she applied for the job. As a child, Maggie and her mother lived near the river that runs past the house. Maggie's memories of that time are patchy, like pieces from a jigsaw puzzle that don't quite fit: she remembers Kenneth's son, William; a boat; a dog; she remembers children singing, and being alone, afraid. She remembers - afterwards - returning home, mute, refusing to speak. For her, going back to Earl House as an adult offers the chance to fill in the gaps and finally, perhaps, lay the ghosts of her childhood: for her, as for William, this is her chance to reclaim her past. Written in clear, ringing prose, The Song House is about language and music, memory and place, about who we are and the narratives we weave about the events of our lives. Beautiful and haunting, its cadences, themes and characters will resonate with the reader long after the final page is finished.