‘Encounters of the fifth kind – a blend of intimacy, anxiety, pleasure, alienation’
Author ‘Seraphina E. Arden’ is the alias used to share this very illuminating account of sex surrogate work. She is a creative artist with a Masters degree in Theater, works in the field of Creative Education, a life coach, a mother and practices daily spiritual work.
In the foreword the author explains her reason for writing this book – ‘A woman is writing, hiding behind her book’s heroine, who hides behind her soul’s heroine: Seraphina behind Lilly, behind Emma. Emma is the real heroine, but her name is fictitious. The stories in the book are all based on true cases that were distanced from their proprietors. I, the author of the book, know them well and believe them; I so believe them that as I write, tears run down form my eyes as if this is happening now, entrenching a clear path within me. This book is dedicated to people, all people. It is dedicated to human potential, to “yes” instead of “no.” It is dedicated to the hidden, the hesitant, and the daring. This book is dedicated to believers…’
Having created the tenor of intent of the book, the story opens with an amusing moment of choice for the underwear of the day for Lilly who admits, ‘I’ve always been drawn to the underworld, forbidden, controversial things, or ones that set other things ablaze…I am a surrogate, a woman who accompanies men of all shapes and shades, all difficulties and anguish, in journeys from sexual dysfunction to complete functionality, from sitting in a café to lying in bed, from coffee to sex. Both can be great or fine, but less than that is unacceptable. My name is Lilly, and Emma is my alias. This fabrication keeps me and the patient safe from all harm. Personal biographical details never helps relations.’
With this degree of skillful writing the story proceeds, as the synopsis outlines – ‘Lilly, a woman in her late forties, lives a double life. In one of them, known to everyone, she teaches design in high school and leads an ordinary life, raising her two children. In the other one, hidden from people’s eyes, she is a professional surrogate who helps men solve their sexual problems. For the first time, she shares her insights on this complicated, thorough and lengthy therapeutic process, from the first coffee she has with her patient until she has full sexual intercourse, up to the ending of this unique relationship. Through the personal story of David, one of the patients, she provides a rare glimpse into the various stages, presented through true stories straight from her intriguing therapy room. Every patient has a story, and each one of them suffers from different problems, but they all have one common denominator—they are incapable of intimacy with a woman, and Lilly’s job is to help set them free.’
This is an excellent book, written with impressive skill, and one that opens windows to a need that very much benefits from addressing – a story both entertaining and informative and compassionate. Highly recommended.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.