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on 30 April 2017
Very interesting book. Richard Beard tells the story of his friend's sex change honestly I thought. It must be hard to adapt to the change of identity, not to see your friend as 'Drew' any more. Especially as the name is so similar! I think Dru was finding it hard too, even though she was at last happy with the way she was.
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on 22 May 2008
It's not often that I pick a book up and instantly feel part of it, drawing on the words on the page and eagerly wanting more. But this book had me hooked from the very first page.

Autobiographies of Transsexuals tend to end up in a standard kind of way, you see the struggles, you see the need to conform and see an individual that seemingly breaks the shackles of a previous part of life, and throws them away. I often feel sad about this, for example Roberta Cowell felt the overwhelming need to stop liking motor cars because she lost an interest in them. It has always comes across to me it seemed she felt it was the right thing to do, and so the need to conform made her shun things she liked rather than embrace her inner self. Happily she allowed her liking to come back but in many other books I have seen people throw a whole chapter of their life away, as though it never belonged to the.

With Dru in "Becoming Drusilla" you get to see a more familiar viewpoint, that it isn't a sin to still like things you always have, that many transsexuals keep an element of femininity and Masculinity of their previous part of life with them, something no different to any other man or woman.

Dru still likes the things she did before, she likes to canoe, to fix motor cars, to go hiking, to work on ships in engine rooms, and drink pints of Beer, all considered manly things to do. For the average person even in our more liberal way of life in the western world this still looks very wrong in the sense of conforming, there is still a perceived way of being who you should be. When someone transitions it is not just difficult for that person, but for friends, partners and families.

When Dru told Richard, a long time friend what she intended to do Richard experiences what many other friends do, thoughts of how?, why?, when?, where?, and the need to know more... for many transsexual people some friends have immense difficulty understanding, or accepting at all, with this book many of those taboo's are covered with Richard writing the biography from his viewpoint, his need to understand more and his need to question himself too in how he feels about what Dru has done. Set around a walk in Wales and sharing a tent, something both of them previously did together before Dru undergoes her change including surgery this book explores Dru's life, how things have changed and how Richard sees things from the perspective of a friend, something that is rarely seen.

The book is full of amusing moments and anecdotes, which had me smiling, nodding with familiarity and laughing in places, but more than that it is a truthful and honest account from a friend who by sharing his own fears and anxieties has gained more knowledge, understanding and acceptance of his friend, and made his and Dru's friendship even stronger.

An inspirational, fun and well written piece of writing on many levels, I thoroughly recommend this book, especially for those who are friends of someone undergoing change or have changed such as Drusilla.
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on 5 June 2008
This is without doubt one of the finest,well written,clever,moving books i have ever read.Everything about this book is excellent from the way it is written to the old fashioned styling of the way the book as been made with a proper binding and drawings (done by Drusilla)between each chapter.
The journey they undertake together is not unlike the whole journey of transitioning because Richard has himself so many doubts and questions he is trying to find answers to.
The actual trip for me was very moving because parts of their journey are through areas i know so well and have a special meaning to me personally.
There are so many books available telling the arduous path of being a transsexual person but after reading a few you find yourself skipping chapters because so many are similar. With this book you will find that once you start reading it you will have great trouble putting it down.
Richard Beards observations on Drusilla,who herself is a very interesting person,are so clever, sensitive and intelligent,he looks at the complete picture,his own feelings,drusilla's feelings and how other people react. If you only ever read one trans-persons story make sure it is this one and if you know anyone who is going down this sometimes very difficult path make sure that they and all their friends,family and work colleges read it because the people who are on the outside may have a very different opinion afterwards.
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on 24 October 2011
Does this book need more reviews? Or did I just feel I couldn't resist having my say? I think that's it, because having found this title by chance, and then noticing that it's classified under "biography" (where I rarely venture), I was completely taken by it, in a page-turning way that I don't often experience. I have read quite a few life stories of people in gender transition - or limbo - and some are tragic, some sad, some so exuberant you almost feel embarrassed. But "Becoming Drusilla" was a happy experience all through, suspending all I knew about gender already, as Richard went through his discovery with Dru, reached his conclusions and weathered the frustrations of looking for blinding revelations where there were none. Woven into a holiday trek that seems largely to consist of walking in rain and ending up where they didn't set out to go, the metaphor is quietly appropriate and it prevents any slog of analysis by seating the whole endeavour in a friendship many readers will envy.

I wondered whether Richard had just given up trying at the end: the trail just sort of flopped down to rest. But it's only because the conclusion would be so obvious if only we didn't try so hard to explain that our binary views of gender were right all along, and that something traumatic must have happened to make a man want to become a woman. My wife is right: it's easier for "just friends" to accommodate something as startling as Drew becoming Dru (or in my case Andy becoming Andie). A friend is not as defined as a husband, and the friendship in this book shines through without any forgiveness or sentimentality. And I value the reminders that being trans disturbs and embarrasses the people we know (thank you for "transphobiaphobia"), and we can expect too much. However, it does not have to be a drama: just a slog in the rain sometimes.

This is a book for friends and family of trans people, to see the courage of Dru and her wonderful approach to life where her past remains valuable, her future is viable, and her present is, well "just getting on with things".
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on 26 December 2009
The first thing to say is that this is an entertaining read, extremely well written. At times it dips into serious thoughts about what is transsexuality, but before it gets too intense, pulls back out into something amusing or observant about the way daily life is lived, irrespective of gender. This book had me alternately laughing and on the verge of tears in self-recognition - which got me some looks from fellow train travellers! This is THE book to give to friends, relatives, whoever, who wants to know more about transgenderism. Or to someone who simply wants a good read about two people walking through Wales. And indeed it is this combination that makes this book so good.
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on 20 July 2008
This book is many things - first and foremost an entertaining read. Variously moving, honest and funny, it is also an important addition to the canon of books about gender transition. And a physically nice book - an adornment to any bookshelves! - the binding and illustrations give it the feel of a real labour of love. Recommended.
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on 27 May 2008
I could write a lot about this book.

But I won't. I don't need to - others have already written in detail and my feelings are very simple.

Books about the 'trans' experience? I've read the lot.

This is different. Simply the best, most insightful, hauntingly honest account of a journey taken by two friends - a journey on many levels - at the end of which the author discovers that although everything seems to have changed, nothing has.

Which might just be all that we, as trans people, really want to say to the world. Certainly to those we love. And here is someone looking in on Dru's experience, to say it for us.

Perhaps it can only be done that way?

If you are TS, or maybe even more if you're not - if you struggle with your feelings or your insecurities or your prejudices or your instincts in this area - if you're looking for meaning and finding none - if you're scared, if it's all so unclear, contradictory - buy this book.

The best book I have ever read on this subject. Period. Frankly, one of the best books about friendship and acceptance I have ever read.

6 Stars.
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on 16 August 2011
What an absolutely marvellous and uplifting book is 'Becoming Drusilla'. I devoured it in two sittings. No doubt this has been said before, but I'll say it anyway: the story is at least as much about Richard as it is about Dru, and that is NOT a bad thing. For every person undergoing a transition there are a host of others who know and love them and whose lives are also cast into the melting pot, albeit to a much lesser extent. 'Becoming Drusilla' doesn't offer trite solutions or claim to explain how the need for transition arises - no one yet understands that - but it does light the way to an honest, rational and sympathetic approach. Thanks for sharing: both of you.
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on 7 January 2012
I first read this book 3 years ago and gave away my copy. I was glad to do so as I wanted to proselytise about a wonderful book. That left me without until my fabulous partner bought me another copy. I've just re-read it and I got to say, this is easily the best book about gender corrective issues I've ever read. It's witty, warm, informative, tender, loving yet not indulgent. Richard Beard's is the voice of every puzzled friend and hurt loved one ... questioning, doubting, clinging onto a past that's now revealed as not what it seemed. As he moves through the various stages of grief towards acceptance, so he mirrors Drusilla's own movement towards authenticity.
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on 21 May 2008
I've encountered more than my share of autobiographies of transsexual individuals and it's fair to say I'd become a little jaded with what can seem an overfamiliar narrative structure (Beard refers to this as "the old three-act trick" and he's spot-on). "Becoming Drusilla" is nothing like those autobiographies. It's a breath of fresh air.

I bought it on the strength of a Sunday supplement feature and read it in a (long) single sitting, which is testament to the book's readability and Beard's lightness of touch. Although it deals on one level with the transition of titular heroine Dru(silla) from male to female, it never feels like a clichéd or solipsistic "transsexual narrative". The fact that it's a biography (interwoven with a travelogue which is hugely enjoyable in its own right, a sort of inclement Welsh version of a road trip) written by a male friend means it's as much about Beard as about Dru herself, possibly more so: while never less than entertaining, Beard doesn't shirk from sometimes brutal unpicking of his own reactions to his friends transition, even when those reactions reflect negatively on him. Especially when they reflect negatively on him.

In some ways, Dru herself remains a bit of a cipher - not in an exotic or mysterious way; on the contrary, her transition seems the most ordinary, straightforward thing in the world - with Beard's resultant anxieties (as he strives to contrive a narrative arc to "explain" Dru's gender confirmation in terms of linear cause and effect) and insecurities (as he reflects with merciless honesty on his own sense of gender/sexuality/self-conscious sexism) the book's real focus. I think this is a Good Thing, especially as Beard's way of owning/processing his anxieties has resulted in an immensely readable page-turner which manages to be frank, informative and frequently laugh-out-loud funny. And really quite moving in its evocation of enduring friendship.

A truly beautiful piece of writing on a number of levels. Highly recommended.
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