The Danish Girl – A Review

It’s been a while since I posted here and for that I can only apologise. I moved onto a different production working in the Sports department and it meant I was working weekends. Apologies for those who may have missed my book reviews but I promise I’ll be posting more regularly again now. So here’s what I’ll be kicking off with.

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff.

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This book was selected by book group as part of a novel that had been adapted into a film or TV series. Loosely based on a true story it follows the story of an artist named Einar who one afternoon is asked by his wife Greta to put on a dress so she can complete the painting of a friend. Little does she know that this moment acts as an awakening to Einar.

‘Einar was beginning to enter a shadowy world of dreams where Anna’s dress could belong to anyone, even him.’

Soon Einar is dressing as a woman and going by the name Lili. His wife is both supportive and encouraging of Einar’s choice to do this, and actually notices how when he’s Lili he seems more radiant and alive, as Einar he is withering and fragile. As the book progresses we see Einar’s transition into Lili becoming more frequent, so much so that soon Greta is living with Lili. Soon Einar realises that he must be Lili all the time and in this we have the heartbreaking story of one man’s journey to become the first transgender person.

As time passes in the book, what’s interesting is that we see Greta wilting and torn, as she loves Einar and wants him to be happy, she loves Lili, but also has to come to the painful realisation that Einar will be no more, and eventually Lili will want to live her own life. A section of the book that really struck a chord with me was when both Greta and Einar were trying to find a doctor who would understand and help with that transition. Most Dr’s deemed him as being homosexual and schizophrenic, which must have been an incredibly upsetting and frustrating situation to be in. Eventually they find a Dr who can help Einar become Lili and this latter part of the book is both heartbreaking and uplifting.

This is an incredibly well written novel, with beautifully descriptive landscapes, and for me captures the pain, confusion and hope of someone striving to be the person they know themselves to be in a world that seems against them. Beautiful and tragic, I haven’t yet seen the film, but hope that when I do it does the book justice.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

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‘A little boy with a secret. That’s all. No different from the rest of us.’

 I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read the book. Please comment below and happy reading.

Georgina

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