Loosely inspired by a true story, this tender portrait of marriage asks: what do you do when the person you love has to change?
It starts with a question, a simple favour asked by a wife of her husband while both are painting in their studio, setting off a transformation neither can anticipate.
Uniting fact and fiction into an original romantic vision, The Danish Girl eloquently portrays the unique intimacy that defines every marriage and the remarkable story of Lili Elbe, a pioneer in transgender history, and the woman torn between loyalty to her marriage and her own ambitions and desires.
The Danish Girl is an evocative and deeply moving novel about one of the most passionate and unusual love stories of the 20th century. Now a major motion picture starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, directed by Tom Hooper.
Read by Joe Jameson.
©2000 David Ebershoff (P)2015 Orion Publishing Group
Piqued my curiosity about the real Lilli Elbe. I would recommend a little distance between Wikipedia and this story. Enjoy as it is written; it's a departure from biography.
Writer and audiobook reviewer.
In the 1920s Copenhagen at the beginning of this story, Danish artist Einar Wegener has been married to fellow American artist Gerta for six years. By the end of the story, Einar is 'dead' and in his place is Lili Elbe, 'Nature's greatest mishap corrected at last' as she calls herself. This much is true and is the basis of the major motion picture about to be released. The re-issued book and the download have been issued to coincide with the film.
Listening to it, I wondered whether the author David Ebershoff wrote the book with the big motion picture in his head. The short sentences, plentiful dialogue and simple but deftly chosen words create brilliant and highly charged scene after scene in the listener's imagination, whether it's of Greta's paintings, land and waterscape, the designs and texture of clothing, or of anguished dialogue.
One of the author's skills is knowing when to stop. There is plenty of detail and depth of emotion, but never too much, which goes for the pain of the rejection suffered by Gerta as well as for the details and agonies of Lili's operations. Einar's journey from male artist to Lili venturing out in her pretty dresses is tracked in all its complexities, anguish and finally post operative agonies with great empathy and insight. Einar had been a frail, slender man and when Lili first emerged, a battle was played out in his head between the two people. Doctors who diagnosed him as schizophrenic or offered a lobotomy were no help until the Dresden clinic offered him pioneering surgery.
As poignant as Lili's sufferings are, those of Greta, who supported and encouraged the Danish Girl who had been her husband whilst sustaining her own successful career as an artist, are equally intense. Heart-warming is the love of Hans for both Lili and Greta. Hans had been close boyhood friends with Einar and he stayed faithful to Einar, Lili and Greta. The kindly, gentle mood of the whole book is epitomised in Hans's words when he finally realises exactly what is happening to the little boy he knew so well, "How can I blame him for who he is?"
Lili finally finds love with Henrik but before they marry, she accepts the Dresden surgeon's offer of implanting a uterus into her in the hopes that she can bear a child. The surgeon has over-reached himself and Lili's 48 year-old weakened body rejects it. The author avoids the real-life conclusion and also any whisper of condemnation or judgement.
The narrator, British actor Jo Jameson, makes a very good job of reinforcing the book's filmic qualities with his gentle unobtrusive reading which lets the scenes unfold. He creates a range of convincing voices for all the dialogue. He had a problem with Einar/Lili and I found his solution rather wan and feeble.
Highly recommended - and an essential listen before seeing the film.
Unusual book, not my normal read at all, jumps around a lot chronologically speaking so you need to keep up. I wasn't overly impressed with the ending though.
A sensitive portrayal of the confusion and frustration experienced during transition. Not only for the person who is transitioning but those around then.
How it make people realise how scary it is to make a dicison about having a sex change and what you have to go through to do it
Lilly is my favourite character because she is shy but also confident
I enjoyed the scene were Lilly first went to have her sex change
Yes ain it has to be the part were the wife stands by her husband I think that's true loyalty
So hope there will be a second part to this
No. I was expecting more insight, both in emotion and detail, about the transition from male to female.
Would not recommend this book, perhaps the film is better?
"The mark of a good story"
I am not sure I really liked this. But they say that the mark of a good book is when you think about it after reading, and I am now about to look further into this.....so?
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