How many people do you pass by in a day? Hundreds more if you work in the city. We grab a glimpse, a quick read on the relative size and character of another person, sometimes detecting emotions: happy, angry, late, lost. It’s all part of the bustle of life.
Yet, in every single one of these people, there’s an immense invisible dimension, an ocean of great depth and breadth that we don’t see. This book, written by Marcelle Guy & G.S. Payne, is about someone who was unable to see the whole ocean in herself, and the waves in this ocean she couldn’t see were tearing her life apart.
Ellevie, A True Story of Repressed Memories and Multiple Personality Disorder is a memoir, that is to say, a remarkable life described by the alert, compassionate and brave woman who lived it. Marcelle Guy struggled with a life-long fracture buried in her personality, and this is the story of how she carefully, sometimes desperately, but ever tenaciously untangles the most disturbing knots you might imagine.
Discovering each gripping turn in Ellevie is a pleasure best left for page-by-page reading. Suffice to say that, with amazing resilience and ingenuity, the author gradually recovers each lost memory and puts herself back together. She minces no words in describing the failures and torments she faces in trying to get professional help in her distress, but that’s only part of the story. There’s also a heroic tale here.
Perhaps the most impressive quality of Ellevie is the gentle dignity with which the whole story is told. At no little personal risk, grappling with extremely intense emotional issues, the author has nevertheless gathered her story together for us with great calm and sincere reticence. Each fractured piece of pain or joy is deftly, almost quietly, revealed to us, right when we need it to follow along in constant suspense and sympathy.
And for those of you who understand a bit of French, there’s already an important discovery hidden in the title of this thoughtful book, one that resonates well beyond the page when that part of Marcelle Guy’s poignant, urgent puzzle gets solved.
The ocean within me is deeper for having read this discreetly profound account of another person’s struggle for survival, to be a whole person balanced between the light and the dark, in the fullness of life.
Reviewer John Bertucci made films in the US and Europe for 30 years and is currently Executive Director of Petaluma Community Access. in 2012, he co-founded FukushimaResponse and continues to work for greater awareness and understanding of our nuclear predicament.