The story of the author’s childhood and young adulthood under the abusive control of her father, who was convinced that he could make her into the ultimate Being of Light under Freemasonry. Raised in isolation and without love, Julien nevertheless uses her lessons in deprivation to cultivate the strength to escape.
Maude Julien was the daughter of a man she calls The Ogre – her mother was the first victim of this man, taken from her poor French mining family at 6, raised in boarding schools, and then married to him in order to produce Maude, who, the Ogre thought, would be a super human and create change in the world, thanks to his teachings. In their compound in the countryside near Dunkirk, Maude was raised alone, without companionship except for some beloved animals. She was forced to sit for hours in a dark basement to contemplate death, subjected to a Spartan diet, had to rise before her parents and navigate an obstacle course in the dark before breakfast, among other things. Her experience is extraordinary and terrible, but her memoir is full of care for herself and her life, relating her experiences with emotion but also to clearly illuminate the methods of control that were used, and with compassion for her mother. Reading Julien’s memoir is not like gawking at a car crash, but rather sharing in a triumph of survival as a witness to the extremes to which people can go.