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Unexpected Legacy
A Memoir of Forgiveness

Unexpected Legacy is an emotionally engaging, informative and inspiring read about the recovery from abuse and the transmutation of consciousness. It will be very helpful to trauma survivors and trauma therapists.

—Sheila Krystal, PhD, Therapist, co-author of The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy.



This jewel of a memoir written by debut author Ellie Wood is not to be missed. Her writing is exquisite, rich in sumptuous details and deeply engaging. She writes with unflinching honesty about her experiences as an adult in reliving and eventually coming to terms with her childhood abuse. Her courage and determination to heal are exemplary throughout. Ms. Wood’s transformational journey of healing is an inspiration to read.

—Cindy Rasicot, author of Finding Venerable Mother


Ellie Wood's courageous and humble memoir is a story of healing from childhood sexual abuse, a memory that she recalled late in life. But more than that, it is the narrative of a woman's spiritual journey to unveil her true identity and speak her truth even though she is apprehensive at times. Her story shows us that life is not a linear set of events that we can control, but rather a circuitous route of exploration and discovery that unfolds with suffering and joy. Through her hands, art, and enormous heart, she heals herself and others.

  —Mary Tuchscherer, Writing Coach, Founding CEO of VoiceFlame

Unexpected Legacy is profoundly beautiful in its simple but explosive truth. To read this book is to witness something rare and indelibly true....spiritually transformative in a sacred way.

—Catherine Pyke, author of Jane Lathrop Stanford, Mother of a University

Unexpected Legacy reveals the shadow in a seemingly enviable childhood of wealth and plenty, and does so elegantly. Some scenes are searing; others are mischievous. Among the landscapes and people are many so lovingly drawn they are a gift to the reader, yours to keep. We are in good hands with our gentle, observant narrator as we travel through the past and near past to more plainly see the now.

—Jennifer McDougall, Mindful Arts, San Francisco

Rich prose and honesty that will carry you straight to your own heart, Ellie Wood's Unexpected Legacy will take your breath away. Step by determined step, she unravels the tangled threads of her past that might have destroyed a less courageous woman. This is a must-read book!

 —Gail Strickland, Author of Night of Pan and Oracle of the Song


Ellie’s compelling story is both profoundly individual and, in the sense of Joseph Campbell’s, “The Hero’s Journey,’” inspiringly universal. Similarly, Ellie’s way of supporting others in finding their own path to healing and wholeness is both unique and deeply admirable.

 —Carol Cole, co-founder Sophia Project

A memoir recounts a woman’s twisting and torturous psychic journey that spans almost 70 years and toggles betweenmid-20th-century New York City and 21st-century California.
   Wood was the youngest daughter in a family that was immensely wealthy but quite dysfunctional. When not in her artist studio, Mummy would closet herself in her bedroom with her migraines. Daddy was a loud bully wrapped up in himself. The two older daughters were always away at a Virginia boarding school. The author and Kristen, the two other daughters, went to an exclusive day school in Manhattan, had nannies and governesses, and endured very weird extended families.
There was the luxury three-floor apartment in the winter and the Vermont farm in the summer (horses loomed large in this family). And a lot of drinking. Fast-forward 60 years to California. Wood had a 30-year marriage that produced two kids but finally ended in divorce. Still, she had made a life for herself as an artist (a writer and painter) and healer. Then, undergoing a healing session in 2011, she fell into a crying jag, feeling that something traumatic must have happened to her decades ago but not knowing what. This pain took over her life, and the psychic journey—the psychic detective work, if you will—began. According to the author, she discovered that her father raped her at least once and probably more times. The story concludes with an epiphany that calls to mind Nietzsche’s dictum that whatever does not kill you makes you stronger. And Wood weaves her musings in that vein into an extensive and probing meditation. In the end, she achieved a resolution of her childhood sexual trauma.

   There are two important points to be made here about the memoir. First, Wood is a very good writer. Her description, for example, of a visit to her father’s childhood home in South Carolina is pure Southern gothic. And the ritual of Sunday lunch with her creepy family shows what life must have been like for a little girl who just wanted to have normal parents and siblings and to be loved by all of them. Even without the sexual trauma, the audience will ache for this child. The second point is that many readers will find the author’s account of the spiritual lifestyle that she pursued for most of her years stirring, affirming their beliefs (or need to believe). But some skeptical readers may not find this aspect of the story that intriguing. The work sometimes makes it seem as if healers were as thick as leaves on the ground in Marin County. The chronicle branches off into specializations such as Body Talk and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and past life speculations. Wood is also a lifelong student of G.I. Gurdjieff’s teachings. While Hamlet’s reminder to Horatio that “there are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy” will always be worth pondering, this book is probably not for everyone. On the other hand, these therapies worked for the author and may help others.
   A well-written account of a survivor’s turbulent odyssey that will inspire many readers..

 —Kirkus Reviews

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