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.