The Only Girl in the World: A Memoir

The Only Girl in the World: A MemoirThe Only Girl in the World: A Memoir by Maude Julien
Published by Text Publishing on May 1st 2017
Pages: 256
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How to rate such a book????

In the beginning….

Maude’s Father (Maude being the protagonist and the Author of this Memoir) approached Maude’s Mother’s family when her Mother was five or six years old. Maude’s Father was wealthy and said he would care for and raise their child. So Maude’s Mother’s family gave their young daughter to him. Are you following me? How sick is this? So Maude’s Mother goes to live with Maude’s father when she is a child and is raised by him and when the time is “right” they have Maude who is to be a “superior being.” There is some serious Ick factor going on in this book. He chooses a 5 or 6 year old to raise and then have a child with – a superior being if you will.

So Maude is a young girl who lives with very strict rules. Idleness and doing nothing is not permitted. She is to be busy at all times. She is home schooled and kept in virtual isolation as her father tells her she could be kidnapped at any time – just like the Lindbergh baby. Thus, begins the emotional abuse. Love and affection are also no-no’s. Maude lives in an environment where she is afraid all the time. Both her Mother and Father will strike (hit) her if she does the wrong thing. She is forced to stay in the cellar/basement in darkness as part of her training i.e. the Meditation on Death. She is permitted to bathe once per week in the same bathwater that her Father and Mother have bathed in. She is to consider this an honor to bathe in the dirty water of her Father. Puke-a-rama. Seriously, gross.

She is allowed pets but they also live sad dreary lives. Her dog is kept caged up for long periods of time and is only allowed out after dark. Her horse and pony are subjected to harsh treatment and the pony is forced to drink alcohol. Such a lovely family : (

Besides her harsh upbringing and stick rules, Maude is also sexually abused/molested by the gardener. As I read, I just kept thinking could her life get any worse. She lives in constant fear, is constantly put down for not living up to her father’s high standards.

As I was reading I kept wondering why none of the people who came into her life – music teachers, the man who butchered the animals, etc. noticed that there was something seriously wrong in this house. Why did this child not go to school, why did she never play with other children, why did she wear strange clothing, why does she have scars, etc?

Eventually Maude does get out of her parents home and eventually finds happiness and a career. She details how she benefited from therapy and decided to become a therapist herself.

Needless to say this is not a Happy-go-lucky memoir. It is raw, sad and heartbreaking. I read this book in one sitting. It is disturbing and will stir emotions and make the reader angry. How Maude survived her horrendous childhood is impressive and shocking. Her father was definitely mentally ill and incredibly abusive. Her Mother was like someone with Stockholm syndrome. She was at times worse to Maude than Maude’s father was. Maude also compared her Mother to a person in a cult who has been brainwashed.

Reader beware this is a dark sad memoir. It begins with ugliness and ends with hope.

I received a copy of this book from Little, Brown and Company and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.