The Hiding Place is narrated by Dolores, the youngest of six daughters born to a Maltese immigrant father and a Welsh mother. With one hand permanently disfigured by a fire when she was only one month old -- the hand is beautifully described by the author as "a closed white tulip standing in the rain; a cutoff creamy marble in the shape of a Saint; a church candle with its tears flowing down the bulb of wrist" -- Dolores has always been treated as an outcast. Her father, Frankie Gauci, is an incorrigible gambler who bets "more than he can afford to lose." On the day Dolores is born, he loses his half-share of a café, as well as the apartment above it where his family lives. Everything in Frankie's life is potential currency, including his family; he even sells his second-oldest daughter Marina to gangster Joe Medora in exchange for a house and money to pay off his debts. Dolores's mother, Mary, is driven to the edge of insanity as she watches the world around her collapse, helpless to save even her children from her husband's vices.