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
Buy on Amazon
four-stars

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.

four-stars

The Secret River

The Secret RiverThe Secret River by Kate Grenville
Published by Text Publishing on July 1st 2005
Pages: 414
ISBN: 1921776404
Buy on Amazon

This is a type of book, where the more I think about it, the more I like it.

William Thornhill grew up poor in England. His parents died when he was young leaving him to are for his younger siblings. He takes a job as an apprentice with his childhood friend, Sal’s parents. He has always liked Sal and as he learns a trade and sleeps under the same roof with her he falls in love with her. At the end of his apprenticeship he and Sal marry. Her parents also pass away. Tragedy seems to follow them. With an infant and wife to care for, he begins a job and learns he does not make enough to care for everyone and steals some wood. He is sentenced to the penal colony of New South Wales. His wife and son go with him to Australia. When they dock, he sees his newborn son as his wife has given birth while on the voyage (they travel on different parts on the ship as he is a prisoner and she is not).

After they arrive in Syndey they find a way to make it 50 miles north and William claims 100 acres as his. Sal does not like this new land, she is uncomfortable but promises her husband she will give it 5 years. During this time more children are born and Sal deals with loneliness and the hope that she will return home in 5 years time.

In the every beginning of the Novel, William awakens to find a man standing in his hut – naked holding a spear. The man tells him “Be off”. I liked the entire passage’s description. I think it does a great job of showing how both the Aborigines and the colonists feel about each other. The Aborigines have always lived in that area, it was theirs, their children’s. It is their home. Then comes in Colonists who proudly proclaim the land as theirs. Atrocities occur on both sides. Aborigines are mistreated. Colonists get speared.

Sal and William hear the stories. They have contact with the Aborigines. Sal makes a trade with the women, her bonnet for their crude bowls. The Thornhills believe that they can live on this land without incident. They do not want to treat the native people as other colonist have done so. They refuse to take actions against them as their peers have done. They do not know what to make of the naked people. I like how William thought that the Aborigines in their nakedness and their way of life are more free than he has ever been in his life.

This book also delves into what do good people do to protect what is theirs? Even though we hear Williams voice, I feel the Author did a good job showing us the plight of the Aborigine. It would have been nice to have more of that voice told; however. At what point does a good man, make the decision to act against his morals and values? By the end of the book, William is faced with that question. He wants to be successful in his life and to care for his family. Both sides feel entitled to the land. Neither side has anywhere else left to go. By the end of the book, this issue of land ownership comes to a head. The book began as a romance between William and Sal and ended with a struggle of survival.

This is book has some disturbing scenes _ people poisoned by the “green powder”, a woman kept as a sex slave, physical attacks, etc.