Friday, October 29, 2010

REVIEW: A Woman's Passion by Alan Barrie

A Woman's Passion bills itself as the "enchanting adventures of a straight man who spends a surprising, fascinating, edifying, and even romantic week as a woman." All of that is true, but it barely scratches the surface of the story. This is not just another crossdressing memoir, not just another forced-feminization fantasy, and certainly not just another transsexual romance.

Instead, it is a beautiful, honest, sincere, and (yes) romantic exploration of what it means to be a woman . . . and what it means to be a man, relating to a woman.

Without giving too much away, the book hinges on a magical transformation that, instead of being a cheat, actually adds an otherwise impossible level of significance and detail to the experience. When Alan confesses to his girlfriend, Cassandra, that he's always wanted to know what it feels like to live life as a girl, she immediately recognizes the value in such a experience and introduces him to her caregiver - a female shaman from the wilds of Peru. Although Worra can initiate the transformation overnight, Cassandra asks her to stretch it out over a few days so she can instruct Alan (now Allison) in the ways of being a girl.

What this does is provide both Alan/Allison and the reader with the best of both worlds. We get to experience the transformation of a man into a woman, and share in the thrills/joys/fears/excitements of taking on a new role. We're invited to share in all those wondrous first time experiences, as Alan slips into her first pair of panties, wears makeup for the first time, walks in heels for the first time, and learns to move and act as a woman. If you ignore the fact that the magic gives him an edge, this can serve as an instructional bible for any transgendered reader - we can learn a lot from Alan's first tentative adventures.

At the same time, we get to experience the growth and blossoming of a young woman, as the magic provides Allison with an extremely rapid transition through puberty. We're invited to share in the joy of budding breasts, the electric sensations of a hard nipple, the discovery of her maturing sex, and the awe-inspiring development of sensuous curves. Wisely, the magic stops there - there is no miraculous psychological transformation. Although 'her' body is all-woman in a manner of days, 'his' mind is still very much male, and as much as Allison develops, the fears and doubts and questions of Alan keep cropping up. It's this internal conflict that keeps the story grounded, and provides the realism needed to balance the magic.

What I love about this book is the fact that it's not a piece of erotica - it's a fully realised story, complete with a plot full of as much tension and suspense as wonder and joy. As I said, it's still Alan inside of Allison, and as much as she wants to experience womanhood to its fullest, he's convinced he could never really go all the way with a guy. At the same time, Cassandra's very real mixed emotions add their own element of tension, leaving the reader to wonder if Alan would lose what he already had while Allison finds what he was looking for. Also, while the world has no clue as to the 'truth' of Allison, she does - which means the fears and challenges of 'passing' are still there, as are the thrills of successfully fitting in.

I'm reluctant to say much else, for fear of spoiling the read, but this is exactly the book that I was hoping for. It's enlightening, educational, exciting, and erotic. It takes the reader to places he could never really go, and allows him to really believe that he's there. We get to know what it feels like to live life as a girl, and it is an absolutely lovely experience that you won't want to end.

One final note . . . I beg you . . . implore you . . . beseech you not to read ahead. I absolutely did not expect the epilogue and, for me, it completes the book. I was so happy for Alan/Allison that I literally did have tears in my eyes as I read those final few pages.

Not just recommended, but I dare say required reading!

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