A Blood Stained Ivory Tower
of Joy and Madness describes one woman's odyssey in mid-life from conformity to authenticity. Julie starts life with what she perceives as a deficit: a broken family. As the book opens she's gained the normal family life she aspired to as a child, but her success leaves her feeling empty and unsettled. At thirty she is wondering, "Is that all there is?"
First she searches for answers in her church and in finding her dream house, but a friend's death proves those answers unsatisfying. Next she attends college to learn what wise men know, but once there is disillusioned by how little is known. Next she uses her sexuality to discover those deeper truths. Coming alive sexually supplies some answers and fulfills her desire to live passionately, but she worries about being caught up in an endless cycle of love affairs. Finally, she commits herself to love and intimacy with one man and following the emotions aroused by that love, which leads her traumas of her childhood.
Julie's four searches recall a re-occurring dream she's had since childhood about riding a tidal wave. In that dream she faces her fear of the huge wave racing toward her and allows it to sweep her up in an exhilarating ride to the top.