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An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  238 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
For the past forty years, Cheryl Cohen Greene has worked as a surrogate partner, helping clients to confront, consider, and ultimately accept their sexuality. In this riveting memoir, Cohen Greene shares some of her most moving cases, and also reveals her own sexual coming-of-age. Beginning with a rigid Catholic upbringing in the 1950s, where she was taught to think sex ...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published November 20th 2012 by Soft Skull Press (first published November 13th 2012)
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(showing 1-30)
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Michelle Cristiani
Dec 30, 2012 Michelle Cristiani rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Like many, I came to this book because of “The Sessions,” which I have not yet seen. I get the feeling, given the timing, that this book is a companion to the film.

Cohen-Greene explains that the difference between a surrogate partner and a prostitute is that seeing a prostitute is like going to a restaurant, and seeing a surrogate partner is like going to culinary school. I understand her point. Surrogate partners, like therapists, have to harbor a great deal of sympathy for clients. All of her
...more
Nathan Cola
Feb 08, 2013 Nathan Cola rated it liked it
A clever autobiography of sex partner surrogate, Cheryl Cohen-Greene, of whom 'The Sessions', starring Helen Hunt, is based upon. Cohen-Greene recounts some her memorable experiences as a surrogate, working with patients suffering from physiological & psychological ailments preventing them from enjoying a fulfilling sex life. She also paints a portrait of her upbringing and relationships which shaped her attitudes toward sex and ultimately led her to surrogacy. An enlightening read that is ...more
Catherine
May 03, 2013 Catherine rated it really liked it
I hadn’t seen the movie, “Sessions,” prior to reading this book. I was interested in learning more about Cheryl after reading some reviews and seeing an interview with Helen Hunt, who portrays Cheryl in the movie and was nominated for Best Actress for an Academy Award.

The chapters switch between Cheryl’s surrogate clients and her work with each individual, and her personal life, discussing her conservative upbringing, her nonconformist marriage, motherhood, and what lead to her choosing her care
...more
Suzanne
Dec 01, 2012 Suzanne rated it liked it
This book tells the life story of Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a woman who has made a living as a sex surrogate, helping hundreds of people overcome problems with sexual disfunction and fear. She seems like a very warm person and her writing style is quite engaging. The book consists of alternating chapters that tell the story of her life and relate her encounters with various clients who have left a lasting impression on her.

I found the chapters telling her life story much more interesting than the ch
...more
Christa Wojo
Jan 08, 2015 Christa Wojo rated it really liked it
I was interested in reading Cheryl Cohen Green's story as research for my series of novels involving a character with deep-rooted sexual issues. This book was an honest look into the life and career of a fascinating person in a profession weighed down by stigma and ignorance.

Cheryl Cohen Greene begins by telling us how she suffered as a young woman in the days when a woman's sexuality was ignored, shunned, and hidden. Eventually, she met a man who understood and appreciated her sexual desires. T
...more
Lynley
Jul 16, 2016 Lynley rated it really liked it
I haven't seen The Sessions but I had seen the British documentary My Sexual Surrogate on SBS (where else?) a few years ago and I must have been impressed because I remembered who the author was, but only made the connection after I started reading. That documentary was uncomfortably voyeuristic to be honest. And the male colleague working with the woman was ever so slightly creepy. But the warmth of Cheryl shone through. (To be fair, apparently it's much easier to work with typical male sexual ...more
Janell
Apr 23, 2015 Janell rated it really liked it
Shelves: standalone
3.5 stars. I came across this book while I was walking around chapters and it was their featured biography and thought it sounded interesting. I had never heard of a surrogate partner before so I found it quite interesting. The books starts off with "I've had over 900 partners". And I was like whoa! But I found the book to be more of her life with her husband and her open marriage than the surrogate partner. It opened up with some discussion and her history into how she got into this work but ...more
Richard Wagner
Apr 24, 2015 Richard Wagner rated it it was amazing
I have another swell sex-positive book to tell you about today. Anyone who frequents http://www.drdicksexadvice.com/ will already be familiar with my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Cheryl Cohen Greene. If ya don’t believe me type her name into the search function in the sidebar and PRESTO!

Not only will you find the fabulous two-part SEX WISDOM podcast we did together, you will find a posting about the movie The Sessions. You’ve seen it right? It’s the award-winning film staring John Hawkes,
...more
James A. Butler
Dec 09, 2016 James A. Butler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Fascinating Portrait of a Compassionate but Complex Person

Cheryl is honest and insightful and blunt. Her story could easily be sensationalized but her humanity and kindness shine thru. I would love to know her.
Leslie Jonsson
Oct 23, 2016 Leslie Jonsson rated it it was amazing
Great book on what a sex surrogate does, and is, and what motivates one to become a surrogate. I just wish Cheryl had outlined a few more of her cases.
Henry Le Nav
Apr 17, 2014 Henry Le Nav rated it really liked it
I guess I am one of the few who had never heard of the movie The Sessions prior to reading the book, well what can I say, I live under a rock.

I read the book out of a curiosity for the surrogate process. I have read brief technical descriptions of the role that surrogates play, but I was hoping to get a better understanding of surrogacy which the book delivered but only partially to my satisfaction. It is a memoir of her life with some surrogacy tossed in. For most people this book probably is
...more
Annie
Dec 30, 2013 Annie rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
Cheryl Cohen-Green is a surrogate partner, an unusual sort of therapist who helps clients work through intimacy and sexuality issues with a real person. Her memoir is part therapist's journal of memorable clients and the work she did with them, and part autobiography. While the stories of her work with clients is certainly interesting, it is her personal story that is the best part of the book. Born in 1944, Cohen-Green describes her Catholic upbringing and how it led her to feel shame and guilt ...more
Barbara Skuplik
May 13, 2013 Barbara Skuplik rated it really liked it
Like many readers, I picked this book up after the movie "The Sessions" (which was based on the author's life) came out in theaters. The author, Cheryl T Cohen Greene, who has established herself as a successful sex-surrogate, has an easy way of relaying her story which makes this book pleasant to read. You can tell that she is at ease with herself, and has the gift of storytelling mastered as a form of communication, most likely due to her many years work as a sex-surrogate.

I didn't know what
...more
ThatPickledReader
May 23, 2016 ThatPickledReader rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting life of a surrogate that seems self-edited at times not detailed enough. How did she become a surrogate--was there procedure or protocol involved or proper training? Qualifications?
Readers not used to being exposed to non-traditional lifestyle (for lack of a better term) may find her sometimes candid approach regarding sex as well as her own life unsettling.

The book is half recollection of previous clients, of which surprises me there wouldn't be MORE unique cases like Mark's (the
...more
Stephanie
Feb 10, 2014 Stephanie rated it liked it
Found this memoir in the "staff recommendations" section at the library. Since I enjoyed the movie (The Sessions), I decided to give the book a try. Overall I liked it -- I would probably give it 3.5 stars. At first the chapters alternate between stories of Cohen Greene's work with clients and her own life history. I found the early chapters about her client work very graphic and hard to read. The later chapters about surrogate partnership are less detailed (since the reader is already familiar ...more
N
Feb 02, 2013 N rated it it was amazing
I, like many, also read this book as soon as I finished watching "The Sessions." I thought that the movie was very touching and wanted to learn more about the real Mark O'Brien and Cheryl as well. Reading An Intimate Life was an eye opener and I was filled with compassion. The way she helped and worked with her clients was amazing, her personal story touching and filled with so much love and hardship. The best thing was that Cheryl always found a way to pull through with support from others and ...more
Suzanne
Apr 18, 2013 Suzanne rated it really liked it
I read the book first then saw the movie "Sessions". The movie had comedic relief interjected with the fictional priest character. However, the true story is what is really compelling. Cheryl Cohen Greene really opened my eyes to everyone’s right to claim their own sexuality. It's unfortunate that there aren't more male surrogate partners for women. So many women have been victimized either directly or by society at large. They need the proper kind of nurturing to guide them through to a better ...more
Samantha
Jul 07, 2015 Samantha rated it really liked it
Great book. I like the casual style without talking down to a loaded subject matter. The alternating chapters between Cohen Greene's personal life and professional life really highlighted the balance she has between the two. Also, liked that she some chapters were about clients that didn't work out that she didn't portray her professional as a fix all for every sexual issue. Highly recommend this book and if you don't want to read it the movie, The Sessions, is also based on Cohen Greene and ...more
Desi
Apr 18, 2013 Desi rated it liked it
Cohen Greene and Garano tell a fascinating story in an accessible way. In some instances, I felt it was needlessly explicit and I am always annoyed by typos. There were at least five in the trade paperback I read. As memoirs go, this one cannot compete with The Liars Club or The Glass Castle – the writing just isn't strong enough – but if you're looking for a fly-on-the-wall introduction to a non-traditional occupation, lifestyle, and marriage, I'm sure you will enjoy An Intimate Life.
Hoyadaisy
Feb 22, 2016 Hoyadaisy rated it it was amazing
Cohen Greene is a therapeutic sex surrogate and tells fascinating stories from her practice, always with compassion for her clients and a passion for sex education. She is the sex surrogate played by Helen Hunt in the terrific movie "The Sessions" and tells the story of that experience first.

I was a bit less interested in the chapters that dealt with her personal life, but she did a fair job of connecting elements of her personal life with topics from her practice.

Sophie
Aug 05, 2014 Sophie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
What a warm and human book, with no bullshit. Like having a heart to heart talk with a good friend. Helps you get a perspective on your life and your issues, especially body and sexuality issues. Cheryl is such an amazing, empathetic and wise person. What a rich life she had!
Highly recommended read
Lauren Graham
Feb 21, 2013 Lauren Graham rated it really liked it
Interesting account of the life and work of the real life surrogate partner who inspired the movie The Sessions. At times, shocking but also an eye-opening look into a world that I never knew existed. Even after reading the book, I still am not sure about my stance on this profession, but I enjoyed hearing about her journey and how she ended up doing what she does.
Steve Welch
Feb 10, 2013 Steve Welch rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
This is the book the movie, "The Sessions" is based on. I saw the movie and then wanted to read the book, and the book was great. Turns out the movie's screenplay is the first part of the first chapter of the book. I guess the Hollywood producers didn't get very far into the book. No matter, the movie was great, and the book is even better.
Whitney
Dec 05, 2012 Whitney rated it it was amazing
After seeing the Indie Film, The Sessions, starring Helen Hunt as the surrogate partner, Cheryl Cohen-Green, I was blown away. I wanted to know more. I immediately bought this memoir and was not disappointed. It's an honest view into the reality that not everyone lives inside the box that is American society's mores. If you like memoirs and want your mind opened a little bit more, I recommend it.
Ingrid Lola
Nov 16, 2012 Ingrid Lola rated it liked it
Shelves: meh
The subject matter was fascinating, but the writing felt too much like it was crafted to appeal to the broadest audience possible. I wish Cohen-Greene had dug deeper into the emotional conflict and complexity that seems to be inherent in her work.
Blue
Apr 17, 2013 Blue rated it really liked it
Interesting auto-biography of a sex surrogate (upon whom the movie The Sessions is based), mixing narrative of some of her clients with tales of her religious upbringing, rocky marriage, and transition to sex-positivity. A touching, unique book.
Kate
I am surprised how much I learned about sex, anatomy, biology, and empathy from this book. It would be amazing if all conversations about sexuality could be so frank, honest, and comfortable.

Side note: this was much sexier than 50 Shades and the other "down there" ilk.
Connie
Apr 25, 2013 Connie rated it really liked it
Interesting and revealing ideas about sexuality. May be a little too graphic for many of my friends.
Kesh
Dec 08, 2012 Kesh rated it it was amazing
I bought this book after seeing "The Sessions" and was fascinated by Cheryl's work as a surrogate. Fantastic, honest memoir with a great insight into the work of sexual surrogates.
Mary
Mar 04, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing
Very compelling. Cohen Greene's journey is fascinating and the book is a great read from first page to last.
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