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The Only Girl in the World: A Memoir

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Maude Julien’s childhood was defined by the iron grip of her father, who was convinced his daughter was destined for great deeds. His plan began when he adopted Maude’s mother and indoctrinated her with his esoteric ideals. Her mission was to give him a daughter as blonde as she was, and then to take charge of the child’s education. That child was Maude, on whom her father Maude Julien’s childhood was defined by the iron grip of her father, who was convinced his daughter was destined for great deeds. His plan began when he adopted Maude’s mother and indoctrinated her with his esoteric ideals. Her mission was to give him a daughter as blonde as she was, and then to take charge of the child’s education. That child was Maude, on whom her father conducted his outrageous experiment—to raise the perfect ‘super-human’ being. The three lived in an isolated mansion in northern France, where her father made her undergo endless horrifying endurance tests. Maude had to hold an electric fence without flinching. Her parents locked her in a cellar overnight and ordered her to sit still on a stool in the dark, contemplating death, while rats scurried around her feet. How did this girl, with her loveless and lonely childhood, emerge so unscathed, so full of the empathy that was absent in her childhood? How did she manage to escape? Maude was sustained by her love of nature and animals and her passion for literature. In writing this memoir, Maude Julien shows that it is possible to overcome severe trauma. She recounts her chilling and deeply moving story in a compelling and compassionate voice.


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Maude Julien’s childhood was defined by the iron grip of her father, who was convinced his daughter was destined for great deeds. His plan began when he adopted Maude’s mother and indoctrinated her with his esoteric ideals. Her mission was to give him a daughter as blonde as she was, and then to take charge of the child’s education. That child was Maude, on whom her father Maude Julien’s childhood was defined by the iron grip of her father, who was convinced his daughter was destined for great deeds. His plan began when he adopted Maude’s mother and indoctrinated her with his esoteric ideals. Her mission was to give him a daughter as blonde as she was, and then to take charge of the child’s education. That child was Maude, on whom her father conducted his outrageous experiment—to raise the perfect ‘super-human’ being. The three lived in an isolated mansion in northern France, where her father made her undergo endless horrifying endurance tests. Maude had to hold an electric fence without flinching. Her parents locked her in a cellar overnight and ordered her to sit still on a stool in the dark, contemplating death, while rats scurried around her feet. How did this girl, with her loveless and lonely childhood, emerge so unscathed, so full of the empathy that was absent in her childhood? How did she manage to escape? Maude was sustained by her love of nature and animals and her passion for literature. In writing this memoir, Maude Julien shows that it is possible to overcome severe trauma. She recounts her chilling and deeply moving story in a compelling and compassionate voice.

30 review for The Only Girl in the World: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Well if this isn't a RIP-YOUR-HEART-OUT work of non-fiction!Good Lord....not an easy read....dark....heartbreakingly sad....exasperating....shocking....and animal lovers will be appalled!Monsieur Didion is a crazy, paranoid and obsessive well-to-do person of the male persuasion (refuse to call him a man) who offers to raise and educate a little blonde girl from a poor family for the sole purpose of eventually marrying her and producing his own blonde daughter, training her to be a superior, Well if this isn't a RIP-YOUR-HEART-OUT work of non-fiction!Good Lord....not an easy read....dark....heartbreakingly sad....exasperating....shocking....and animal lovers will be appalled!Monsieur Didion is a crazy, paranoid and obsessive well-to-do person of the male persuasion (refuse to call him a man) who offers to raise and educate a little blonde girl from a poor family for the sole purpose of eventually marrying her and producing his own blonde daughter, training her to be a superior, super human being to "raise up humanity."What he and his now grown wife (28 years younger) Madame Jeannine actually do, however, is treat her as a thing....a possession....a prisoner who must obey and adhere to his every command including holding a chamber pot each and every morning of her life while he and his filthy unwashed body does his business....this poor little girl.A life of strict rules, mind fear AND cruel and unusual punishment ensues with no comfort, understanding or protection from either parent....no knowledge of the outside world....no truthful answers....no reason why she is treated so harshly. Even tiny bits of love from animals is forbidden.Didion the ogre sets excruciating expectations....often of a tortuous nature and demands satisfaction....AND then OMG there's Raymond the vampire!What Maude endured is unimaginable, and I can only say thank God for a savior (no spoiler here) and the light at the end of the tunnel.Well written memoir, but whew!Many thanks to NetGalley, Little, Brown and Company and Maude Julien for the opportunity to read her story in exchange for an unbiased review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~ ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣

    Q: Life is stronger than anything else, there is always a solution, and I will find it. I’m sure of that. (с) Q: Why am I not allowed out? Why must I not derive any pleasure from eating? Why does Yves stub out his cigarettes on my knee? Why does Raymond do what he does to me? Why can’t I have any heating in my bedroom? Why don’t we wash? Why does no one kiss and hug me like people do in books? Why am I not allowed to go to school with other children?(c) This book is a veritable eye-opener. This is Q: Life is stronger than anything else, there is always a solution, and I will find it. I’m sure of that. (с) Q: Why am I not allowed out? Why must I not derive any pleasure from eating? Why does Yves stub out his cigarettes on my knee? Why does Raymond do what he does to me? Why can’t I have any heating in my bedroom? Why don’t we wash? Why does no one kiss and hug me like people do in books? Why am I not allowed to go to school with other children?(c) This book is a veritable eye-opener. This is probably the first time ever, when I have literally no idea, what and how went REALLY, HORRIBLY wrong with those people (can't call them parents!), because it's about everything that did, including foolproof things. And there were friends of family who thought nothing of a girl forcibly held over a precipice! What the fuck? How do people get that batshit crazy? My heart went out to this girl. She withstood immense psychological and physical torture from her parents throughout her childhood. Maude managed to survive it on her own, as a child. The father was the mastermind, the mother was his victim and enabler. Everything was against her, still she manageed to overcome it all! Her childhood was a weird mix of education (to the point of obsession, maybe! though I, personally am a proponent of early education in children), pain (horrible, unspeakable stuff!), mental conditioning (sect-style) and plain weird shit (appropriate in a madhouse). Her father tried to implement a lot of esoteric/occult/crazy? stuff in raising her up. The way the girl was born is also worthy of a special treatment in a mental hospital. Her father bought (otherwise acquired? Q:It’s unclear whether there was a financial transaction.(c)) her mother when she was still child. Because she was blond (?). And was from humble origins. Then he raised her, gave her education and got her a child, our author. The books is written in a way, a very weird one. Actually, the girl felt incredibly mature. A real force of nature, she had to become to get over all that! And it's like she never got maudlin or felt sorry for herself, which is an extremely rare quality. The education and family traditions are also worthy of a special mention. For one thing, I was not sure how to put my thoughts about this. It's a horrible mix of perfectly ok things (though still unconventional, like early education) and of horrible abuse. This family actually took a lot of good ideas and perverted them horribly. For one thing, it would be ok to play with a child pocker face. Still, it was perverted to nonsensicality. It's ok to teach a child things early in life, it's not ok to timemanage them to horror. It's ok to be lax in birthdays preparations, it's not ok to ignore them altogether. And the list goes on and on. What the freak has happeneed to the father to become such a monster? Eugenics training gone wrong? Occult practices mushing his brain? What? How does one get that way? Another maddening thing is that these fuckers(! can't call them parents!) fucked up her education miserably, since their own knowledge was far worse than needed to teach a girl all the things they endeavoured. Who would try teaching a child German without knowing it? Who would demand the child learns sommersaults, acrobatics, etc without knowing either how to do it or how to teach it? Who would send a child to sit exams without 1st getting some teachers/books explaining what those exams entail (like, that essays are not the only thing on the menu?)? And the mathematical tortures, don't get me started on them! I can't believe how clever/well-adjusted/incredible this girl was to manage to get aducation after all of that! I truly hope that she is fine now. I hope that she manages to find her peace and to go on living as bright and happy and hopeful as she was created by God, before those nutters got to her. I also pray that whatever genetic quirk that brought THAT on, is never ever further revealed in her family, God bless them. She took way more shit than any of us could ever dare to take and stay sane to tell about it. She needs some serious rest from all of that! Another thing: we are told precious little on how Maude got to become the well-adjusted person she seems to be today. I do realise discussing this might be terribly intrusive on her privacy but, BUT if ever she considers a follow-up on that and her life afterwards, a lot of readers (and me personally) would definitely be not only inrigued but bound to dive right in. An excerpt from an interview with her: «Mon père est mort quatre ans plus tard, explique-t-elle. Il a fallu que j’apprenne à vivre. Même marcher dans la rue m’était compliqué.» Asociale et inadaptée, la jeune Maude développe alors toutes les phobies possibles et imaginables. «J’avais peur de l’ascenseur, du noir, de voir des gens. Par exemple, il m’a fallu très longtemps pour oser demander une baguette bien cuite à la boulangerie.» Pour autant, elle rêve de dévorer à pleines dents la vie qu’elle n’a jamais eue. Brésil, Chine, Vénézuela: elle se met à voyager et embrasse la carrière de thérapeute. «J’ai tourné la page depuis longtemps. Ce livre n’est pas une thérapie mais un moyen d’aider ceux qui sont victimes d’emprise mentale comme je l’ai été…» Q: Whenever the two of us are alone, my mother tells me it’s my fault we had to leave Lille and bury ourselves in this hole. That I’m not normal. I have to be hidden, otherwise I’d be locked up in Bailleul straightaway. Bailleul is the lunatic asylum. I went there once, when my parents took on one of their inmates as a maid. It’s a terrifying place... (c) Q: My father had the walls coated with a roughcast of an even coarser texture in order to ‘tame’ me. It didn’t do any good. I still went and hit my head against those walls in fits of anger. (c) Q: My mother, whom Linda views with cool courtesy, is exasperated. ‘That dog’s mine,’ she keeps telling me. ‘But of course you have to own everything. You act as if she’s yours. And you’ve managed to make the stupid animal believe it herself.’(c) Q: My father often returns to this episode. He wants me to understand that he’s the only one who loves and protects me. That I should trust only him. (c) Q: I feel like the ducks on the pond, with one wing that my parents want long and beautiful and the other cut to the quick. (c) Q: Linda and Pitou are my darlings, I’d do anything for them. My parents understand this. If they want me to do something, they need only say, ‘Watch out! If you don’t do it, Linda will be locked up for two extra hours a day for a month,’ or ‘We’ll put Pitou in a wooden crate for three days with nothing to eat or drink’ or, worse still, ‘We’ll put Pitou back where he belongs’—that is, the pond, where I know he wouldn’t survive. So my minor rebellion instantly dissolves. (c) Q: My father doesn’t like me doing nothing. When I was little, I was allowed to play in the garden once I’d finished studying. But now that I’m almost five, I have less free time. ‘You mustn’t waste your time,’ my father says. ‘Focus on your duties.’ (c) Q: Ever since then, I settle for gazing from afar at the tree of happiness. (c) Q: I don’t have much free time, anyway. Between schoolwork, music, my share of the housework, and serving my father, my days are very full. (c) Q: You’re in danger, too,’ he {father} says, looking at me intently. ‘People will try to abduct you. That’s why you mustn’t go out. ... He reminds me of another safety measure I already know well: the lights must never be switched on when the shutters are open, because this would make us easy targets for a potential sniper hiding on the other side of the road. ... I’m given to understand that there’s a ‘wave of child kidnappings’ going on at the moment. After the Lindbergh baby and the Peugeot boy, I’m third on the list. (c) Q: My father reiterates the fact that everything he does is for me. That he devotes his entire life to me, to training me, shaping me, sculpting me into the superior being I’m destined to become. ... I need to understand just how much my very existence is a result of my father’s plans. I know I must prove worthy of the tasks he will set for me later. But I’m afraid I won’t measure up to his vision. (c) Q: My father is convinced that the mind can achieve anything. Absolutely anything: it can overcome every danger and conquer every obstacle. But to do this requires long, rigorous training away from the impurities of this dirty world. (c) Q: He sometimes tells me that I should never leave the house, even after he’s dead. His memory will live on here, and if I watch over it, I’ll be safe. Other times he informs me that later, I’ll be able to do whatever I want, that I could be President of France, master of the world. But when I leave the house, it won’t be to live a pointless life as ‘Mrs Nobody’. It will be to conquer the world and ‘achieve greatness’. I’ll have to come back from time to time to recharge myself ‘at home base’: in other words, in this house, which absorbs more and more of my father’s power every day. (c) Q: To avoid disappointing him too much I wage war on my many faults. But there’s one I just can’t control: I have a habit of twitching my nose and mouth and screwing up my eyes. ... Since I was little he has made me sit facing him ‘without moving a muscle’. At first I had to stay still for a few minutes. Then a quarter of an hour. Once I turn five, he adds what he calls ‘the impassivity tests’ to my daily schedule, between eight and eight-fifteen in the evening. Then the sessions become even longer and are held at any time of day, sometimes lasting several hours and delaying my lessons and homework, which then all have to be caught up. And now my mother has to do them too—when we’re alone she’s quick to tell me how much she resents me for this. (c) Q: ‘You mustn’t reveal anything with your face or your body,’ my father says in his deep voice, ‘otherwise you’ll be eaten alive. Only weak people have facial expressions. You need to learn to control yourself if you want to be a great poker player.’ Do I want to be a great poker player? I don’t know, I’ve never played poker. But I have to be ready in case I ever need to later. (c) Q: We never use terms of endearment because they’re ‘for the weak and sappy’. The word ‘darling’, for instance, is never said in our house. (c) Q: Because they’re a ‘present’, the writing time for these letters is taken out of my allocated sleep time. (c) Q: The waking-up rule is one example. ... At six-thirty every morning she opens my door—wham!—and she flicks the light on and yells, ‘Get up!’ My mother thinks people who get up at seven are ‘slackers’. Under her watchful eye, I have to get straight out of bed and dress in less than two minutes. (c) Q: As far as my father is concerned, birthdays are not celebrations, and I have to be trained so that mine never becomes one. Which is why every November 23rd I have a longer school day and no recess. I’m waiting anxiously to know what the new ‘teaching’ for my sixth birthday will be.(c) The parents made sure to hire a teacher as crazy as they were: Q: On these occasions when he wants to punish me, he throws his beer in my face. Or he stubs out his cigarette on my thigh. I’m so tense that my playing goes from bad to worse. The punishments come thick and fast. During my first piano lesson, he’s obviously surprised by the quality of my playing, which is mainly thanks to Madame Descombes. ‘How come you play so well, when you’re so hopeless on the accordion with me?’ In a flash his amazement turns to fury. He slaps me twice, and to help calm his mood, he snatches my favourite scores and tears them into little pieces. (c) Q: By the time I’m eight, I’ll be pretty much equipped to survive in a concentration camp. (c) Q: My father sometimes summons me to this room to teach me how to open a safe without knowing the code. It will be very useful, he explains, if I am ever short of money. In the event that I am, I have to identify a casino to rob. ...Once the safe is open, I must respect the rules: take only cash and leave jewellery and other valuables. (c) Q: He starts his ‘teaching’: ‘The Third Reich was one of the strongest nations, better even than the Spartans. The nation of the Third Reich will return and it will rule the world. It is superior to all others because of the teaching and training it gives its youth (c) And this was supposedly the guy who was in resistance. One wonders... Q: I find it hard to swallow so I chew endlessly. ‘Only the weak chew for a long time. Swallowing big pieces forces your stomach to work for you, and that builds your character and your strength.’ When he was young he always succeeded in his own personal challenge of downing six hard-boiled eggs in the time it took the clock to strike twelve midday. (c) Q: ‘You listen to me,’ he always says, ‘we’re not like everyone else. We’re not sheep. We belong to the category of strong spirits. You will develop a strong mind like mine. Don’t disappoint me, don’t grow into a weakling like your mother.’ (c) Q: I don’t think he knows it’s not the dead I’m terrified of, but the rats. I don’t say anything because I’m convinced that, if he knew, he’d think of some horrible way to cure me of my fear. (c) Q: After learning to ride a bike and to swim, I now have to learn to ride a horse... First, just like swimming, riding will be very useful if I need to escape. Secondly, it will be a prerequisite when, like my father, I’m initiated into a chivalric order—passing myself off as a man, it goes without saying.... There is a third and still more indisputable reason: I need to be able to get a job with a circus in case I have to hide or go undercover at some point. (с) This is seriously... Q: ‘When I tell you to choose, Maude, that doesn’t mean “choose”. It means take what’s in front of you decisively so no one can detect the slightest hesitation on your part. Choosing has nothing to do with pleasure. Only the weak hesitate and take pleasure in choosing. Life isn’t about pleasure, it’s a merciless struggle. If you show someone what gives you pleasure, you’re revealing your vulnerability, and that person will take advantage of them to crush you. When you behave the way you just have, you put us all in danger.’ I’m sure my father’s right. ... I know what pleasure is, it’s mentioned in books: ice-cream, cakes, parties, dances, Christmas trees…These are all things I’ve never seen or experienced, and to be honest I don’t miss them. My father need not worry, I’ve never dreamed of or longed for a Christmas tree.(c) Q: ... I’ve grasped that I have to disguise my delight and enthusiasm for things. Now, when I see something wonderful, I act completely indifferent to it. (c) Q: In my father’s view, comfort is one of the pernicious ‘pleasures’ that must be suppressed. ... the vast house is barely heated. My bedroom must not be heated at all in order to conform to the precepts of a ‘tough’ upbringing. Sometimes it’s so cold that my windows freeze over on the inside. ... For the same reasons, I have to wash in cold water. ... My parents, on the other hand, are allowed hot water, especially my father, who—because he’s ‘the very picture of strong will’—has nothing left to prove. (c) Q: When you take a bath, you lose your immunity and expose yourself to diseases,’ he tells me, and then adds, ‘unless you bathe in the same water as me: I protect you from outside pollutants.’ That’s why I have to wait until my parents have taken their baths before I can get into the tub, without changing the water. ‘Leaving my water for you is an honour I grant you,’ my father often says. ‘It allows you to benefit from my energies when they enter your body. (c) Crap... Q: My father finds laughter extremely irritating. He sees it as a waste of energy, proof of a total lack of control. Smiling finds no favour in his eyes either. ‘Do you want to be the village idiot?’ he asks ... ‘Only halfwits smile. Your face must be serious and expressionless in order to confuse your adversaries. Never reveal anything.’(с) Q: My room looks out over the street and, by an extraordinary stroke of luck, has no shutters. Has he realized that I slip my head under the red velvet curtain every evening and secretly watch the wonderful life of the people across the street? I observe them wandering casually from room to room, chatting, watching TV. Sometimes they open a tin of cookies and snack from it. I’m amazed to think you can eat like that, without being at the table, without asking permission. And this is with all the lights on, as if they had no idea about marksmen lying in wait. (c) Q: Every morning we synchronize our watches, ‘exactly as bombers and terrorists do’, explains my father because, like them, our success depends on precision. (c) Q: Now it’s the whole day—from the wake-up call at six o’clock to bedtime at eleven-thirty—that has to be regulated like clockwork. The day has to follow a detailed program devised by my parents and written out in a large exercise book, which I’m not allowed to read. (c) Gawwwd. These people should have taken to regulating their own lives. Instead of their child's. Q: I now have to take responsibility for waking the household, which means I have to get up before everyone else. I do have an old alarm clock, but I’m not allowed to use it; I have to be able to wake by sheer force of will...I’m so terrified of being caught red-handed that I might as well have swallowed an alarm clock: my eyes snap open just before the appointed time. (c) Q: At eight o’clock I knock on my father’s door... For the next forty minutes I wait on my father... While he gets up and sits on the edge of the bed, I fetch the chamber pot. It’s no ordinary pot, but a bowl made of glass so he can check for traces of white in his urine, a sign of excess albumen. I stand in front of him so he can urinate into the pot. Every morning I feel increasingly nauseous as the bowl gradually warms in my hands. My mother comes into the bedroom with a tray. We prop up the pillows behind my father, who is sitting back up in bed, and we stand and watch as he drinks coffee with cream and eats buttered bread. When he has finished, we dress him... (c) Behold the perfect way to raise a superhuman girl. Q: Then I have to go back down for an hour of German with my father,... He doesn’t really know German. (c) Q: Lights out is at eleven-thirty. To be absolutely sure I’m sleeping, my mother is instructed to cut off the electricity supply to my bedroom.(с) Q: Every month I have to carry out a ‘meditation on death’ and a ‘test of courage’. ...a new ‘electric fence’ test as part of my tests of willpower... Alcohol is now an important part of training my willpower. Since I was seven or eight... (с) Q: Someone is howling inside me. But no one hears. No one is listening.(c) Q: The schedule is my despot and I’m its slave, all the more chained to it because I never manage to ‘catch up’ on the backlog. (c) Q: My father watches as I fill my glass: he wants to be sure I have as much alcohol as the workmen. (c) Q: because I’m training to be a superhuman, sickness is inadmissible...The same goes for pain; I’m not allowed to feel it. (c) Q: I sustain myself on images of salvation, and strong, charming heroes. I have an increasingly powerful need for books, which throw a glimmer of light into my darkness.(c) Q: ‘I am not from any time or of any place; beyond time and place, my spiritual being lives in eternal existence.’ This is how my father likes to describe himself.(c)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Utmost courage and an amazing will to survive. Raised in the most horrific of circumstances, by a mother acquired by the father just to provide him with a child he could mold into a super person, and a father who has to be insane, she found the will to survive. The things she went through, so incredibly hard to read, to believe, gives truth to the stage of truth bring stranger than fiction. Locked in a basement, tied down, kept there overnight to ponder death, rats scurrying around her feet. Utmost courage and an amazing will to survive. Raised in the most horrific of circumstances, by a mother acquired by the father just to provide him with a child he could mold into a super person, and a father who has to be insane, she found the will to survive. The things she went through, so incredibly hard to read, to believe, gives truth to the stage of truth bring stranger than fiction. Locked in a basement, tied down, kept there overnight to ponder death, rats scurrying around her feet. Everything on a timetable, fifteen minutes to eat a meal, having to run outside in the cold weather with few clothes on, thrown into water, again and again until she learned to swim. Punished for any deviation. Systematic abuse of power and mental anguish, not abuse of the sexual kind, but abuse that Rob's the person from any type of security or hope. She did have animals though, and she counts them, as well as a few people along the way who showed her a different side of life. In particular z music teacher who helped her immensely. She survived this tortuous childhood, but not without many falls and fails in the process. Maude has her own life now and her career path took her toward helping those cope with less than ideal childhoods nor positive experiences. Rating this book was extremely difficult, I feel as if I am rating what she went through, her life. Doesn't seem right. At times reading this I had to look away, skim some parts, always realizing I had this option to escape, this young girl did not. It is also a heartfelt testament to the human spirit, a story where hope prevailed, and ultimately won. The power of writing as a way to heal, to share, and again to provide hope to those who are trying to heal from their own trials in life. I can't say how much I admire this young woman in her willingness to share her story. ARC from edelweiss.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters

    Audiobook...a memoir...read by the author Maude Julien “My father reminds me that he has devoted his entire life to me -first he had to find my mother. She was only six when he found her. And he was already a very rich man. He brought her up with the best education possible, and then when the time came, he gave birth to her. I need to understand, that just my existence, is a result of my father’s plan. I must prove worthy to his plan, but I am afraid I won’t live up to his vision”. Maude is so Audiobook...a memoir...read by the author Maude Julien “My father reminds me that he has devoted his entire life to me -first he had to find my mother. She was only six when he found her. And he was already a very rich man. He brought her up with the best education possible, and then when the time came, he gave birth to her. I need to understand, that just my existence, is a result of my father’s plan. I must prove worthy to his plan, but I am afraid I won’t live up to his vision”. Maude is so frightened of her father. Can you blame her? She’s even more horrified because she can expect no protection from her mother or anyone. Soooo sad!!! Her father thinks the outside world and people are polluted. Maude should realize how lucky she is to be raised away from the weak filthy people. She is to become a superior human being. YIKES ALMIGHTY! I’ve had a home-run success with Audiobooks recently... and believe me I’ve tossed out more that didn’t work - than do. Either I’m getting better at picking them- which is possible from a steady few years of experience - or they’ve just gotten better! Either way, this is another VERY ENGROSSING-MIND-BOGGLING-UNBELIEVABLY-DISTURBING-COURAGEOUS-MEMOIR AUDIOBOOK!!! Maude Julien is amazing- her narration was nothing less than perfection. This story is so harrowing it’s FASCINATING. I had to listen to the end. But warned.... there are some scenes that ‘are’ seriously horrific to read... at least for me. ...... After ... I googled Maude Julien... ( I already thought she was extraordinarily)... but reading more about her life today confirmed it all the more.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susanne Strong

    4 Stars. Maude Julien is a young girl with indeterminable strength. Somehow, she had an innocence about her that carried her through the most horrific experiences a person could ever imagine. She suffered from mental and verbal abuse at the hands of her father, Monsieur Didion. He exacted mind control over her to the likes of nothing I have ever heard of or seen before. And Maude’s story is a true one. How she survived, I do not know. Yet she did and her ability to have hope when all seemed lost 4 Stars. Maude Julien is a young girl with indeterminable strength. Somehow, she had an innocence about her that carried her through the most horrific experiences a person could ever imagine. She suffered from mental and verbal abuse at the hands of her father, Monsieur Didion. He exacted mind control over her to the likes of nothing I have ever heard of or seen before. And Maude’s story is a true one. How she survived, I do not know. Yet she did and her ability to have hope when all seemed lost was truly inspiring. Maude Julien was homeschooled by her mother (who was taken from her own home by Monsieur Didion at the age of 6 years old for the purpose of become his wife and mother to a child “Maude”) and was not allowed to interact with anyone, save her music teacher and her parents. They had a few animals but as soon as she got close to them, her father caged them and made it so that she was no longer even allowed to pet them or get close to them. Monsieur Didion convinced her that she would be kidnapped if she spoke to or looked at anyone, just like Baby Lindbergh. She was locked in a dungy, moldy basement, overnight bound to a chair, without socks on and had to sit up straight, was made to wear a sweater with bells on it, thus if she slouched or bent down, her father would hear her and she would be punished. She had to follow a strict list of rules and obey her father’s every command including eating meals in fifteen minutes. Further, Maude was “taught” never to show emotion of any kind, thus she learned to hide her feelings and thoughts somehow, Maude survived. This memoir was extremely difficult to read, it is heartbreaking and truly disturbing. At times, it wrecked me to read. There were many a time, where I had to take breaks. Throughout however, you hear Maude’s voice. That hope inside of her is what carries you through. And hope is what shines forth – Maude Julien never gave up. She is not just a survivor, she is a fighter and a spirit animal. First and foremost, thank you to Maude Julien for sharing your story. Thank you also to NetGalley and Little Brown and Company. Published on NetGalley, Goodreads, Amazon and Twitter on 1.24.18.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    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" 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 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    4 resilient, brave stars to The Only Girl in the World and infinite stars to Maude Julien for her resilience and bravery From a little girl, Maude Julien was deprived of love, affection, and any comfort at all. On top of that, she was tested and challenged by her father to some standard I never really understood. Basically, he used it as an excuse to torture her. Maude learned compassion through her pets- thank goodness for her animals! And through incredible inner fortitude, Maude learned 4 resilient, brave stars to The Only Girl in the World and infinite stars to Maude Julien for her resilience and bravery ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ From a little girl, Maude Julien was deprived of love, affection, and any comfort at all. On top of that, she was tested and challenged by her father to some standard I never really understood. Basically, he used it as an excuse to torture her. Maude learned compassion through her pets- thank goodness for her animals! And through incredible inner fortitude, Maude learned to reinforce the inner goodness that her parents did not. This is a tale of survival and strength, but wow, it was difficult reading to the end, and I kept thinking- I’m just reading this book. I’m not being forced to live how she did. I was heartbroken thinking of Maude growing up, and in the end, when she escaped (no spoilers, it’s in the synopsis), I was uplifted by her spirit and will to be a loving mother, a helper, and a citizen contributing positively to society. Overall, a book well worth reading. I’m grateful for Maude Julien sharing her story with the world and hope it’s helped her healing. The Only Girl in the World was published on December 12, 2017. Thank you to Maude Julien, Little, Brown and Company, and Netgalley for the complimentary copy to review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    The Only Girl in the World is an extraordinary memoir about madness, control and the survival of horrific childhood abuse. Maude Julien's father Louis chose his future wife and mother of his child, Jeannine, when she was only six and he was 34. He became Jeannine's guardian by promising her family that he would provide her with a quality education. Then: "Twenty-two years after he took possession of Jeannine, Louis Didier decided the time had come for her to bring his daughter into the world... The Only Girl in the World is an extraordinary memoir about madness, control and the survival of horrific childhood abuse. Maude Julien's father Louis chose his future wife and mother of his child, Jeannine, when she was only six and he was 34. He became Jeannine's guardian by promising her family that he would provide her with a quality education. Then: "Twenty-two years after he took possession of Jeannine, Louis Didier decided the time had come for her to bring his daughter into the world... Louis Didier liquidated his assets, bought a house near Cassel, between Lille and Dunkirk, and withdrew to live there... to devote himself entirely to carrying out the project he had devised back in 1936: to make his child a superhuman being. That child was me." loc 73, ebook. Unfortunately, to "make his child a superhuman" involved leaving her alone in a dark, rat-infested basement, sleeping in a room without heat, eating stale bread, practicing music for 12 or more hours a day and being entirely separated from any other children her age. That's where Maude got the title of this memoir: The Only Girl in the World I have not read a childhood account this disturbing since A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer. Maude's father was unhinged. "My father is convinced that the mind can achieve anything. Absolutely anything: it can overcome every danger and conquer every obstacle. But to do this requires long, rigorous training away from the impurities of this dirty world." loc 247, ebook. He asks Maude to do things he cannot do like perform somersaults or swim in freezing water. He shows no affection to either his child or his wife. Louis makes the females of the house wait on him as if he is an invalid. He makes his child hold a chamber pot each morning while he empties his bladder. He's a controlling monster. Louis has strange beliefs about water and soap removing the body's immunities so he insists that Maude only bathes once a week or less. And, when she is finally given the opportunity to bathe, she must use his dirty bathwater to "take strength from him." And she can't count on protection from her mother, who was groomed by Louis to do anything he asks of her. Jeannine actually blames Maude for Louis taking them to live in the middle of nowhere. It is very sad. Maude's only friends are her pets, whom her father abuses as much as he hurts Maude. "Can an animal teach a person about happiness? In the depth of my despair, I am fortunate to have this incredible source of joy." loc 685, ebook. Even worse, Maude is abused by the few adults Louis allows in their lives. (Trigger warnings for those who were sexually or physically abused as children.) Though incredibly disturbing, The Only Girl in the World is ultimately a story of survival against all odds. The human spirit is incredibly resilient as Maude's tale illustrates. Perhaps she is more superhuman than even she realizes. Highly recommended. Thank you to NetGalley for a free digital copy of this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    This was a horrendous story of how far a child can be abused and what the consequences of years of abuse can do to one's mind, body and soul. It was a hard story to read and I am sure even a harder story to write. Gratefully, the author has found her way out of the darkness she experienced as a child.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Char

    THE ONLY GIRL IN THE WORLD: A MEMOIR is a powerful true story I choose to see as a triumph of the human spirit. Maude's father wanted a superhuman child and set out with single minded purpose to achieve his goal. He found a young girl and adopted her. When she was old enough he married and impregnated her. When his daughter was born her training began. I'm not going to go into everything Maude went through, because it's grim. Extremely grim. Also, a lot of what she went through might not seem THE ONLY GIRL IN THE WORLD: A MEMOIR is a powerful true story I choose to see as a triumph of the human spirit. Maude's father wanted a superhuman child and set out with single minded purpose to achieve his goal. He found a young girl and adopted her. When she was old enough he married and impregnated her. When his daughter was born her training began. I'm not going to go into everything Maude went through, because it's grim. Extremely grim. Also, a lot of what she went through might not seem believable at first. As I was reading though, I realized that Maude's story is altogether too possible. What a scary and depressing thought: to have every aspect of your life controlled. To have to hold a chamber pot for your father. To have any family pets used as objects to control you. The only good things in Maude's life were books and music-and even those were controlled by her father. To be clear this book never descended into the area of torture porn. Everything is presented in a rather detached way, whereas you are just an observer. The things that happened were indeed horrific, but you never felt like you were a part of them. Instead, your heart just ached that these things ever happened. An interesting component to this story was the pop psychology theories the father would come up with and how he used them to devise mind controlling techniques. Seriously, I think this guy could have developed a cult of his own if he wasn't so lazy and stupid. His family were actual blood relations and unlike Manson's family could never have left even if they tried. If you can imagine what Manson could have done to a daughter, you have a good idea of what Maude's dad did to her. I can't get into what happened to Maude in the end, because that would ruin everything. However, she did survive to write this book so that should tell you something. Highly recommended, especially for those interested in the psychology of brainwashing. *Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karen Callahan

    A depressing story which makes one question the extent of human evilness. I certainly empathize with Maude and her extraordinary story. Yet, the style which it was written left me wanting to understand the emotions of all the characters. The story was fueled By action. One atrocious event after another. There was little time to connect the dots and understand the reasons behind the actions. The book was draining to read and the ending abrupt.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    The Only Girl in the World is every bit as disturbing as you'd imagine, but it's also the single most inspiring story of resilience that I've ever read. This is what I was hoping Educated was going to be; the difference for me is that Maude Julien seems to have an appropriate amount of distance and perspective from her horrifying past, whereas Tara Westover's story still felt too close to allow for much analysis. The Only Girl in the World certainly is description-heavy, and it's not until you The Only Girl in the World is every bit as disturbing as you'd imagine, but it's also the single most inspiring story of resilience that I've ever read. This is what I was hoping Educated was going to be; the difference for me is that Maude Julien seems to have an appropriate amount of distance and perspective from her horrifying past, whereas Tara Westover's story still felt too close to allow for much analysis. The Only Girl in the World certainly is description-heavy, and it's not until you head into the home stretch that you see the ways in which her childhood impacted the person she was to become, but it's well worth the wait, especially in seeing how her feelings toward her mother shift over time. Only recommended if you can handle reading about very extreme cases of mental and physical abuse; it's almost viscerally painful to read at times.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    “My father finds laughter extremely irritating. He sees it as a waste of energy, proof of a total lack of control. Smiling finds no favour in his eyes either. ‘Do you want to be the village idiot?’ he asks if he catches me gazing up at the sky with a smile on my face. ‘Only halfwits smile. Your face must be serious and expressionless in order to confuse your adversaries. Never reveal anything’” The Only Girl In The World is a memoir by French psychotherapist, Maude Julien, in collaboration with “My father finds laughter extremely irritating. He sees it as a waste of energy, proof of a total lack of control. Smiling finds no favour in his eyes either. ‘Do you want to be the village idiot?’ he asks if he catches me gazing up at the sky with a smile on my face. ‘Only halfwits smile. Your face must be serious and expressionless in order to confuse your adversaries. Never reveal anything’” The Only Girl In The World is a memoir by French psychotherapist, Maude Julien, in collaboration with French journalist, Ursula Gauthier. When she was three years old, Maude’s father, Louis Didier liquidated his assets and bought a house near Cassel where he took his wife and daughter to live in virtual isolation from the world around them. Thereafter, Maude’s upbringing was strictly regimented, physically demanding and devoid of human love and affection, in accordance with her father’s grand plan to raise a superhuman being. By seven years of age, Maude already recognised that “I belong to my parents. I am their thing. There is no place for life inside me or around me”. She is regularly subjected to Meditation on Death in a dark cellar: “My eyes frantically probe the darkness. Only my ears can make anything out, and what they hear propels me into an abyss of terror. A host of sinister noises, little animals moving around in the dark, scurrying, running, stopping, rummaging and scuttling off again. I’m screaming inside, but no sound comes out because my lips are clamped shut and quivering. My father told me that if I open my mouth, mice or even rats will sense it and will climb up me, get into my mouth and eat me from the inside….. I worry that the mice might be able to get in through my ears. But if I cover them with my hands, I won’t hear anything, I’ll be blind and deaf”. At eight years old: “I sleep for six and a half hours, and work or study for fifteen or sixteen hours”. Maude is subjected to ‘Tough pedagogy’: “…all distractions must be eliminated. I have to learn to sleep as little as possible, because sleep is a waste of time. I also have to cope without any of life’s pleasures, starting with delights for the tastebuds, which are the surest route to weakness. …. For the sake of my training, I also have to respect special rules, like never eating fresh bread. My portion of the bread we bake every two weeks is systematically set aside to go stale”. Given the choice of a calendar at Christmas, she hesitates before choosing, prompting this lecture: “Choosing has nothing to do with pleasure. Only the weak hesitate and take pleasure in choosing. Life isn’t about pleasure, it’s a merciless struggle. If you show someone what gives you pleasure, you’re revealing your vulnerability, and that person will take advantage of them to crush you”. As the reader progresses through Maude’s account of her childhood and adolescence, it becomes patently clear that her father is delusional, but still manages to wield great power over his wife and daughter, indoctrinating them both with his bizarre ideas. That Maude survives with her sanity intact is no spoiler; the role that her animals, her music and her own determination to survive play in that outcome make for a fascinating and inspirational read. The text is flawlessly translated from French by Adriana Hunter, and the author’s note to her English readers forms an important endnote.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Dawn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Maude Julien survived a horrifying childhood: the child of a cruel and delusional madman; her mother his willing accomplice (although her mother was victimized by Louis from childhood herself.) Maude was subject to the total control of a megalomaniac, as the victim of her father’s cruel experiments in his insane lifelong attempt to raise a superhuman. The epilogue is amazing and not to be missed. Maude is a therapist, and it is her mission to help others triumph over childhood trauma as she has. Maude Julien survived a horrifying childhood: the child of a cruel and delusional madman; her mother his willing accomplice (although her mother was victimized by Louis from childhood herself.) Maude was subject to the total control of a megalomaniac, as the victim of her father’s cruel experiments in his insane lifelong attempt to raise a superhuman. The epilogue is amazing and not to be missed. Maude is a therapist, and it is her mission to help others triumph over childhood trauma as she has. Maude Julien insists her harrowing childhood story is a testament to hope and the resilience of the human spirit. Her saving grace she credits to a dog, a horse, and a duck, and the stolen moments of happiness she had with these animals while growing up.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Reid

    I realize I’m more of a hawk than a dove when it comes to rating books so I will break it down why I ended up giving a 3. As for compelling me to read to the end, and as quickly as possible, this book gets a 5. The story is so tragic and appalling that I’m desperate to get out of the nightmare and find out who rescued this poor girl or what inner strength did she summon and from where to escape to be able to be writing this today. But the overwhelming and specific detail makes me nervous. I I realize I’m more of a hawk than a dove when it comes to rating books so I will break it down why I ended up giving a 3. As for compelling me to read to the end, and as quickly as possible, this book gets a 5. The story is so tragic and appalling that I’m desperate to get out of the nightmare and find out who rescued this poor girl or what inner strength did she summon and from where to escape to be able to be writing this today. But the overwhelming and specific detail makes me nervous. I bought into James Frey’s A Thousand Little Pieces and let’s just say once bitten, I’m twice shy. I couldn’t even get through The Glass Castle as I kept asking myself, how do these writers remember such minute details and emotions of being 3 years old when all I have are a few strobe light like glimpses that remind of a taste or a pattern of a carpet - but never the whole picture. I know that memoir writing demands a bit of licence and have read Mary Karr’s absolute must read on the subject. I was just hoping that there would be more of an arc to advise me how she got through to the point of publishing the book I had in my hands. Once she escapes the tyranny of her circumstances it’s as if nothing happened or was learned except that a few pets and her own abusive suffering were the keys to becoming free? The author glosses over very briefly about being a contract lawyer in the epilogue and I get frustrated with wondering how does she go from not even being able to pass the baccalaureate after so many failures to being a lawyer? I don’t just want to hear about the bad times. I want to hear about the recovery process and how she came to reconcile her past. And maybe she does, but for me a few paragraphs tucked into an epilogue don’t give me enough to work with. What about her mom? How did her Dad die eventually? It just seems so vague at the end when I’m thinking here’s someone who can remember stuff about being 3 like a pointillist and then the most recent years of life are covered in broad brush strokes as if she was painting with a sponge. It doesn’t feel faithful to the introspection she is building on. Therefore I am wondering is there a second book to be revealed. For this reason I have dropped the rating to a 3 as I wanted more from this writer and she was capable of sharing it with us but she chose to withhold the most important parts of this from us. The lack of emotional depth may be a symptom of her upbringing but surely she can summon some of that discipline and attention to detail she was bred to live by to share how she can be publishing today.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nikola

    You can also find this review on my book blog. 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 You can also find this review on my book blog. 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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Piya

    DNF @ 54% Its too disturbing! This is a true story of extreme child abuse and with every chapter the atrocities keep getting worse and worse. I am so happy that she survived and somehow escaped that nightmare .And I applaud her courage to share her story with the world .But reading this is making me too anxious and uncomfortable. I tried my best but I just can't continue anymore. DNF @ 54% Its too disturbing! This is a true story of extreme child abuse and with every chapter the atrocities keep getting worse and worse. I am so happy that she survived and somehow escaped that nightmare .And I applaud her courage to share her story with the world .But reading this is making me too anxious and uncomfortable. I tried my best but I just can't continue anymore😕.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    The cover of the English version of this memoir is disturbing enough -- a tiny, lovely child, with a hauntingly quizzical expression on her face. But this picture, harrowing as it is, is benign compared to the French language cover, with the original picture, in which that same child is shown with her father looming over her. He is the stuff that nightmares are made of, every child's boogeyman. But he was her father, and the horrors he inflicted were as if ripped from Grimm's fairytales at their The cover of the English version of this memoir is disturbing enough -- a tiny, lovely child, with a hauntingly quizzical expression on her face. But this picture, harrowing as it is, is benign compared to the French language cover, with the original picture, in which that same child is shown with her father looming over her. He is the stuff that nightmares are made of, every child's boogeyman. But he was her father, and the horrors he inflicted were as if ripped from Grimm's fairytales at their most terrifying. The book's description lays out some of the torments Maude Julien's parents inflicted on her from birth in the guise of producing a "superhuman" creation. But her actual upbringing presented in detail is painful beyond belief. Although it is compared to Glass Castle, those parents were self absorbed and feckless, whereas these two are downright sadistic. No surprise that Maude is forced as part of her required reading to experience de Sade at the age of 10. A closer comparison could be made to Dogtooth, an odious movie from Greece several years ago, in which a father incarcerates his family behind a high wall, creating the insular world they believe to be true. What ultimately saves Maude is her inner life. Despite her father's best efforts, he cannot stifle her innate curiosity, her love of animals, and her longing to be part of the bigger world she can only see in glimpses through the bars of her prison. How she has managed to attain adulthood and raise a family of her own is a miracle.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    This is a memoir about a girl held captive by her own parents. The story was so bizarre that I could hardly believe it was a work of non-fiction. It is a riveting story but I could not get a real sense of the girl. This may have been because she did not have a good sense of herself. Were there no people who could have rescued her? She does eventually extricate herself by marrying but then the book suddenly ends. I wanted to hear more about her life after "Mom and Dad" Thanks to NetGalley for an This is a memoir about a girl held captive by her own parents. The story was so bizarre that I could hardly believe it was a work of non-fiction. It is a riveting story but I could not get a real sense of the girl. This may have been because she did not have a good sense of herself. Were there no people who could have rescued her? She does eventually extricate herself by marrying but then the book suddenly ends. I wanted to hear more about her life after "Mom and Dad" Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced copy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Krista Regester

    I need to understand just how much my very existence is a result of my father's plans. I know I must prove worthy of the tasks he will set for me later. But I'm afraid I won't measure up to his vision. I feel too feeble, too clumsy, too stupid. And I'm so frightened of him. The sheer heft of him, his big head, his long thin hands and his steely eyes-I'm so terrified my legs give way when I come close to him.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tania

    I've said this before but just wanted to reiterate - my rating of a memoir reflects my experience of reading the book, not a judgement on the authors live. I do not enjoy translated titles, and could immediately pick up that this was not originally written in English. I think that so much gets lost in translation, especially emotions - everything sounds and feels very distant. I am always amazed at how truly horrible human beings can be. Maude's father obviously had some form of mental illness, I've said this before but just wanted to reiterate - my rating of a memoir reflects my experience of reading the book, not a judgement on the authors live. I do not enjoy translated titles, and could immediately pick up that this was not originally written in English. I think that so much gets lost in translation, especially emotions - everything sounds and feels very distant. I am always amazed at how truly horrible human beings can be. Maude's father obviously had some form of mental illness, but it is still shocking that no-one picked up on what was happening. I agree with Maude that her mom was also a victim, but it is still very sad that she never tried to help her daughter. This was probably more of a 2.5 star read for me, but I enjoyed the last chapter (that was not translated) a lot, so I've decided to round up to 3 stars. The author explains how many issues she still has as an adult because of her isolation, constant fear and alcohol abuse. I think this last chapter had a much bigger punch than the rest of the book, because I could actually hear her voice.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary Carrasco

    It is extraordinary what a human can endure and survive. I'm so glad Maude made it through to the other side so that she can share her story with the world. I won a copy of, The Only Girl in the World, in a Goodreads giveaway. So a huge thanks for giving me the opportunity to read it!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erin *Help I’m Reading and I Can’t Get Up*

    3.5 stars. A very well-written memoir, and equally sad and inspiring. CW: Child abuse, animal abuse, domestic abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse of a child.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Text Publishing

    ‘A living testimony of resilience…An account as gripping as it is inspiring.’ Elle ‘Maude Julien delivers a staggering testimony, one that remains full of hope.’ Ouest France A serious subject: manipulation, in which the author is now a professional therapist. Maude Julien does not write with resentment, or bear grievances; rather she delivers a clear message of hope.’ Livreshebdo ‘This story is never maudlin—it is so absorbing that you have to remind yourself to breathe from time to time.’ Le Point ‘ ‘A living testimony of resilience…An account as gripping as it is inspiring.’ Elle ‘Maude Julien delivers a staggering testimony, one that remains full of hope.’ Ouest France A serious subject: manipulation, in which the author is now a professional therapist. Maude Julien does not write with resentment, or bear grievances; rather she delivers a clear message of hope.’ Livreshebdo ‘This story is never maudlin—it is so absorbing that you have to remind yourself to breathe from time to time.’ Le Point ‘Her book offers a ray of hope.’ Metro Belgique ‘A fascinating and inspirational read.’ BookMooch ‘A fantastic memoir that I recommend highly. It’s a unique survivorship novel of what cults can do to children, but how the resilience of children can create positive outcomes.’ Cosy Dragon ‘Maude Julien’s extraordinary memoir, The Only Girl in the World, is a harrowing yet achingly beautiful tale of girl imprisoned by her brutal, fanatic family, but whose yearning for wonder and love ultimately drives her toward the improbably light of the world. This is a story of resilience unlike any I have ever read.’ Mira Bartók, author of The Memory Palace ‘The Only Girl in the World is one of the most original and compelling stories I’ve read. Maude Julien’s love of books ignites an insatiable curiosity about the world outside the walls of the home where her parents hold her captive. A tale of hope and profound courage, Julien’s story illustrates how trusting ourselves and following our hearts can save us from the most oppressive and cruel conditions. Her brave spirit shines as a bright reminder that what lies within us is stronger and more powerful than our circumstances.’ Ruth Wariner, author of The Sound of Gravel ‘Harrowing, heartbreaking, and against-all-odds uplifting…Julien’s voice is eloquent, composed, understated – the facts of the story are devastating enough. They require no emotive embellishment. That she recounts these experiences in the present tense, however, gives the book a gripping and visceral immediacy…Maude Julien is genuinely a super human.’ Saturday Paper ‘This fascinating memoir never wallows in misery…Triumphant.’ Cairns Post ‘A deeply moving story of resilience and the power of the human spirit to find beauty and love amid the bleakest circumstances.’ Good Reading ‘[Julien’s] growing independence of mind and fierce hunger for freedom make for an ultimately uplifting read.’ Sydney Morning Herald ‘Your heart will break out in symphonies. This is an astonishing story, told in lucid, intelligent prose.’ Australian

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amy Morgan

    Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. I honestly do not even have words for the horrors that happened in this poor woman's life as a child. Trapped for her entire childhood with a psychotic father who thought he was creating a superhuman and a mother who was just as much a prisoner as Maude since her own childhood, the things this poor girl experienced are unthinkable. It is horrifying to remember after reading this that it was a true story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I read the first half--read a few bits every other page for the last half. This was billed as a "Glass Castle" type of book, but the only correlation is that the author had a horrible childhood. Her parents were mentally and physically cruel to her and I feel sorry for her. First published in France, the English translation may have lost some of the writing quality--I felt like I was reading a list of bad things that happened to her, instead of a true memoir with reflection and good I read the first half--read a few bits every other page for the last half. This was billed as a "Glass Castle" type of book, but the only correlation is that the author had a horrible childhood. Her parents were mentally and physically cruel to her and I feel sorry for her. First published in France, the English translation may have lost some of the writing quality--I felt like I was reading a list of bad things that happened to her, instead of a true memoir with reflection and good storytelling. But maybe that is a product of her upbringing? Any child made to read and understand Karl Marx by the age of 8 is bound to have some emotional and writing deficits.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rae

    If any one character could be "precious" it would be sweet Maude. This audiobook got me through an entire work day plus hours of overtime due to it's powerful story that swept me up and into the world of Ms. Julien. Heartbreaking, touching and beautifully written.

  28. 4 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    Audio #95

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Ames-Foley

    This review can also be found on my blog. This was such an interesting and bizarre read that I found myself inhaling it in what amounted to essentially one sitting. Maude Julien’s parents raised her to be “superhuman” and did so through “trainings” that most of us would recognize as nothing short of abuse. Just one example of many is that Maude’s father would have her drink alcohol to excess whilst maintaining her composure and walking along a straight line. I found the tone of the book quite This review can also be found on my blog. This was such an interesting and bizarre read that I found myself inhaling it in what amounted to essentially one sitting. Maude Julien’s parents raised her to be “superhuman” and did so through “trainings” that most of us would recognize as nothing short of abuse. Just one example of many is that Maude’s father would have her drink alcohol to excess whilst maintaining her composure and walking along a straight line. I found the tone of the book quite interesting, as it borders on impassivity. Maude is writing this many years removed from the scenarios she describes and explains everything she endured quite matter-of-factly. Not only had Maude never experienced anything different -- she had never even seen anything different than the life she was living. Instead of presenting the circumstances as she views them now, she is careful to present them as she viewed them then. For instance, she discusses her father’s telekinesis and telepathy as straight facts rather than clarifying that it was something he merely believed he could do. I felt that this served to really put the reader into the world as she lived it instead of just describing her youth. Can an animal teach a person about happiness? In the depth of my despair, I am fortunate to have this incredible source of joy. The thing that struck me most about this book was Maude’s relationship to the animals on their property. It was heartbreaking to see the abuse the animals endured alongside her, but also incredible that she was able to find love and comfort in some form. I was amazed at how Maude was able to truly become her own person even while so firmly held within the grasp of her parents. I was also intrigued by Maude’s later life, after she leaves her family, and wish she would have given some more depth to that period of her life, but also understood that this book serves only to describe her childhood and her eventual escape. The reader is given a bit more information in the epilogue, but I’d argue that a second book could be written about her adjustments to “normal” life as well as her journey to truly freeing her mind. My father hammers into me that fear is the ‘indulgence of the weak’. But however hard I try, I am terrified all the time. Overall, this was quite an interesting read. It may be a little intense for some, due to the extensive abuse portrayed, but if you think you would be able to handle the material I do recommend it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chaitra

    This book made me anxious. At times I was figuratively biting my nails to get to the end of an event. I would have loved to give child Maude a big hug and some warm chocolate. Her family was a cult, albeit a three member one. The tough rules that were enforced strictly was supposed to make her superhuman, but couldn't even afford protection against the garden variety pervert. Animals were tortured during Maude's childhood and so was Maude. And in a different fashion, Maude's mom was also a This book made me anxious. At times I was figuratively biting my nails to get to the end of an event. I would have loved to give child Maude a big hug and some warm chocolate. Her family was a cult, albeit a three member one. The tough rules that were enforced strictly was supposed to make her superhuman, but couldn't even afford protection against the garden variety pervert. Animals were tortured during Maude's childhood and so was Maude. And in a different fashion, Maude's mom was also a victim. I have nothing against the subject I read about, and I think Maude did a brave thing in revisiting this traumatic past. However, I think a little insight into Mr. Didier's psyche would have helped. A child wouldn't know it, yes. But the author is now a psychotherapist specializing in control and manipulation. I would have liked a little of that knowledge, just so I could figure out what it is that ran in the ogre's mind. (How, for example, does a person who spends WWII in the French resistance go on to say he wants to make a blonde haired, blue eyed superhuman?) The ending was also abrupt. It couldn't have been easy, the assimilation, the differences between Maude's childhood and those of any others she would later meet. But it doesn't make it into the page. Ultimately I think the subject is great, but I'd have loved to follow Maude as she came into her own.

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