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The Hiding Place by Jenny Quintana: the present becomes the past in a moment

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

Identity and belonging. How often we take these essentials for granted and how vital they are for a contented life.

In The Hiding Place by Jenny Quintana, we meet two women. One searching for answers to the mystery of her abandonment, the other longing for a more exciting and fulfilled future. Each is connected across the years by a house that possesses the secret of their lives.

The Hiding Place is an emotional mystery skilfully set in separate time periods, the early 1990s and the early 1960s, centred around a shabby south London house and its inhabitants.

I’m deeply interested in the notion of identity, and (though not adopted) recognise that being an adopted child often impacts a sense of identity and belonging, most especially if a foundling, as Marina is in The Hiding Place. (I often watch with great interest, compassion and many tears programmes which reunite long separated relatives, particularly a mother and child.)

The Hiding Place resonates with me because it explores these themes in suspense story form, set in time periods I can connect with.

Marina is searching for her origins in the 1990s at a time immediately prior to the availability of the internet and mobile ‘phones (who else remembers microfiche?) and so is compelled to return to the site of her abandonment to hunt for answers from people, not technology.

Connie is a young woman of the 1960s with a grim secret, coping with loss and uncertainty but desperately planning for the future at a time when women were castigated for stepping outside social norms.

(As a child of the 1960s, The Hiding Place, set in south London, offered me a reminder of that time and place. We used to visit relatives who lived in Mitcham. When my father drove home in the darkening evening, he would often travel along Streatham High Road, and I would stare wistfully out of the car window at what seemed then as the impossibly exotic, brightly lit sign of the Cat’s Whiskers nightclub, telling myself that when I grew up, I would dance there…)

Jenny Quintana unfolds the mystery of the abandonment through Marina’s investigative conversations with the house’s masterly characterised residents, intertwined with the gradual revelation of Connie’s heart-breaking story.

Emotion, tension, and suspense are deftly interwoven against the backdrop of impressively recreated former times.

If you want an adeptly written emotional mystery which explores the themes of identity, belonging and loss, then you’ll likely enjoy Jenny Quintana’s The Hiding Place.

Happy Reading!

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