The Independent London Newspaper
2nd October 2014

Letters

WAKING AS A WOMAN: What if you woke up as a member of the opposite sex?

    Matthew Lewin

    Matthew Lewin: 'It is an extraordinary voyage of discovery as Danielle enters a daunting yet enticing and exciting world of new sexual experiences'

    Published: 6 December, 2012
    by GERALD ISAAMAN

    WHO is Danielle Crowe? And is she the latest writer to follow in the erotic footsteps of the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, the first of the sensationally self-published raunchy fantasy novels of EL James now heading to reap more dollars galore in Hollywood?

    An unexpected tip off told me to take a look at a self-published Kindle ebook on Amazon called Just Like A Woman, supposedly narrated by Danielle Crowe.

    When I did I discovered, more interestingly, that the book is published by Hampstead journalist Matthew Lewin.

    More than that, as I know, he is the author of three light-hearted crime novels based on the career of the intrepid crime reporter of the Hampstead Explorer newspaper, as well as a play Dame Janet Suzman wanted to direct if a willing theatre could be found.

    And he happens to be, at 68, an old colleague from my days at the Ham & High, which Matthew himself edited for six years after me.

    But Matthew simply sighs and smiles when I suggest his professional hand is behind Just Like A Woman and that Danielle Crowe must be a figment of his imagination set to tease us into creating a mystery.

    Not so, apparently, as he points out that the book, remarkably racy in parts, owes its existence to Franz Kafka’s seminal short story Metamorphosis, in which Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into giant insect.

    In the case of Daniel, the primary character in the novel Matthew has just published, he awakes one Wednesday to find he has changed sex and is now a woman. And it is her story that Danielle Crowe narrates.

    What’s more, Matthew points out that he first came across the strange case of Daniel Crowe four years ago, long before Fifty Shades and its continuing sexy sagas appeared on the scene. And it is indeed an intriguing story.

    “Many days and weeks of panic and confusion follow his transformation but eventually Daniel, now pretending to be Daniel’s twin sister, has come to terms with his new gender and learns how to be a woman,” Matthew told me at his home on the edge of Hampstead Heath.

    “She has to buy women’s clothes, cope with the legal complexities of her situation and, above all, learn to deal with the attentions of men.

    “It is an extraordinary voyage of discovery as Danielle enters a daunting yet enticing and exciting world of new sexual experiences, initially with women but more and more with men as her female side asserts itself and her fears and inhibitions diminish.

    “As time passes, she becomes more and more her own person as Daniel’s personality slips further and further into the background. She discovers all the delights of being an attractive woman in London – and all the drawbacks, too.”

    Moreover, underlying all the sexual fun and frolics, there is a truly moving love story which asserts itself in an unexpected, surprising way, and it would be wrong to reveal what happens in a novel that straddles science fiction as well as romance and erotica.

    The fact that Matthew studied psychology and social anthropology in his native South Africa before coming to England in 1970 makes me suspicious as to the authenticity of his claim to be only the publisher of Just Like A Woman.

    He admits to having written a number of unpublished novels.

    “That’s probably because they weren’t good enough,” he explains. “But sometimes that’s not all that important. Writers write and just finishing a novel is often a great achievement in itself with publication a bonus.”

    Added to that knowledge is that his wife, Vivienne, is a recently retired psychotherapist who had an extensive clientele, no doubt providing many exotic tales of the hidden extremes of human nature.

    Time will no doubt tell if the book takes off and demands a sequel.

    So are people in these tough times of austerity starved of real sexual encounters and abiding relationships?

    “You may be right,” Matthew told me.

    “But providing a surrogate for the real thing is not what Just Like A Woman is all about.

    “The narrator just got carried away by the sheer fun of the confusion and panic that set in when his circumstances changed so dramatically.

    “You need to treat it as good, naughty fun.”

    And cheap at the price of £4.58, as you will find by putting Just Like A Woman into the Amazon books website. www.amazon.co.uk/books

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