'Maude Julien’s memoir The Only Girl in the World details the torrents of abuse she endured as a child, growing up under fanatical Masonic parents. While the stories of her suffering disturb and unsettle, the solace and escapism she finds within reveal that flickers of light can be found in even the darkest of places.'
The Only Girl in the World
A MemoirMaude Julien
For readers of Damaged and Running with Scissors, a chilling exploration of psychological control that ends with a glorious escape.
Maude still remembers the sound of the gate being locked behind her. She was three years old when they moved into the secluded manor and in the coming years, she would only be allowed out a handful of times.
Her parents belonged to a fanatical Masonic order. She followed a strict schedule of study, hard labour and endless drills designed to ‘eliminate weakness’, such as holding an electric fence without flinching and sitting in a rat-infested cellar.
But despite their chilling psychological control, her parents could not control her inner life. Befriending animals on the lonely estate and characters in the books she read, Maude nurtured in herself the compassion and love her parents forbade.
‘A living testimony of resilience… An account as gripping as it is inspiring.’
'At once fascinating, mystifying and distressing... The story takes on the energy of a thriller, building on the reader's hectic desire for [Julien's] escape.'
'The Only Girl in the World, a bestseller in France, is a portrait of a three-person cult – Maude and her parents.'
'Proof that love is in our nature regardless of our nurture.'
'[N]ever self-pitying… an ultimately uplifting read.'
'The author of this harrowing memoir describes a childhood trapped in her family's grand house on the outskirts of a small French town in the nineteen-sixties... Now working as a therapist specializing in cases of psychological manipulation, she tells her story with the unflinching clarity of someone who is no longer ruled by her trauma.'
'This story is never maudlin—it is so absorbing that you have to remind yourself to breathe from time to time…'
'The power of The Only Girl in the World lies in its ability to depict without judging—Julien never laments her situation, instead letting the facts speak for themselves.'
'The year's most harrowing memoir...At times the book, in form, resembles the beginnings of Emma Donoghue's Room, but this text is necessarily more graphic and frightening...My multiple audible gasps while working through The Only Girl in the World were partly a result of its author's ability to so artfully capture the meaning and depth of her survival. You wonder how anyone who went through what she did could come out functioning on the other side...That The Only Girl in the World exists as it does is a most persuasive argument for Julien's remarkable willpower.'
'A startling testament of survival.'
'Maude Julien developed an amazing resistance to suffering from a very early age, transcending the acts of barbarism inflicted upon her… Books can indeed save lives.'