I was attracted to this book because I adore memoirs but something stood out when I came across this book because when I read its synopsis I was immediately intrigued. I added it to my to-read-list and then began investigating it further.
In Maude Julien’s memoir The Only Girl in the World we enter the world of power, control and madness but at the same time of escape and finding salvation from it all. Maude Julien’s father is an individual whose personality is deranged – filled with lunacy and ideas of upper most greatness. At a young age Monsieur Didier had a majestic plan which was to raise a superhuman – someone who will make him proud and who he’ll teach all the necessities one needs to conquer this world. He managed to get a child from some people and promised them that she’ll be given the best education he can afford and that she’ll be safe in exchange for her parents to never see her again. The girl he ‘adopted’ later on became his wife and they had a child named Maude. His wish of creating a superhuman was becoming a reality with the birth of Maude and he began doing everything he could to make her exactly that. The training involved her to, at a very young age, drink alcohol and build tolerance for it, holding an electric fence for ten minutes without flinching and other horrifying things. With all these things that happened to her she still managed to stay sane and overcome some large psychological damage caused by her parents with the help of therapy and her friends.
The one thing that instantly pulls you into the story is the first three pages of the Introduction when Maude tells us her fathers chilling plan and at the end of it she writes ‘That child was me.’ I felt shivers down my spine when I read this Introduction. Once I began reading this book I kept turning and turning pages because the story it contains is unbelievable and gripping. The things her father teaches her are ludicrous and I will provide some examples of her fathers ‘wisdom’:
‘If you go and live with other humans, they’ll treat you the way the ducks in the pond treat Pitou. They won’t think twice about making mincemeat of you for the stupidest reasons, or for no reason at all.’ pg. 13
‘‘You don’t know how lucky you are to be spared from being polluted by other people,’ he tells me.’ pg. 19
‘Love is a colossal sham to amuse the masses. If anyone ever tells you he loves you, don’t believe him. It will be because he wants something from you: your power or your money. Never, never, never trust anyone. I alone know what’s good for you. If you do as I say,you can rule the world and overthrow the darkness.’ pg. 141
‘You see what living beings are like? You think Perisaut is so sweet and affectionate towards you, but he wouldn’t think twice about eating you if he could – he’s happy enough eating his own kind! People are the same, they’re cannibals, quite prepared to betray you and eat you. Do you see now why you can’t trust anyone but me?’ pg. 172
These are clear examples of his lunacy and grand ideas for her. What amazes me is how she managed to find hope from all the torture and torment she endured. I just wish that we had more of her now life story because I’d be interested in learning about her education as a therapist and the ways she overcame her struggles. We do get a glimpse into her now life where she talks about the effects she has suffered due to trauma but I wish it was longer.
For any memoir lover this is a must-read because of Maude’s chilling childhood filled with psychological control, torment but also hope that one can overcome severe trauma.
I would like to thank the publisher Oneworld Publications for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.