Only is a candid memoir of Caroline’s life as an only child, the daughter of a successful, domineering Jewish Viennese refugee and his glamorous Parisian wife, who had worked hard to build a life for themselves in England. Caroline’s stories cross her lifespan from early childhood memories, through adulthood, culminating in stories surrounding her father’s last days.
Caroline recounts a childhood where she didn’t want for anything that money could buy. Prosperity doesn’t necessarily shield one from the impact of emotional trauma. Caroline openly talks about the trauma that each of her parents had lived through, the resulting dysfunction within her family and the effect this had on her. She describes the resilience of her parents, their appreciation of their freedom and their desire to give Caroline so much more than they had as children.
Only is an interesting and entertaining discourse about the demands of being a ‘good daughter’ and the experience of being an ‘only child’ throughout the lifespan. I had never considered the pressure placed on a single child by their aging parents, and thus appreciated Caroline’s openness in sharing her experiences of this.