Book talk

The Danish Girl – David Ebershoff


Summary:  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.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thoughts: I started this book the same day that I saw the movie and it’s taken me some time to get through it. When I first started it I struggled to get into it because the author seemed to use ‘like’ as ‘as though’ a lot in a way that I couldn’t see to ignore. However, it was only a few chapters before I was able to look past that and just soak myself into the story.

Einar’s transformation into Lili is so beautifully expressed throughout his whole novel. I have to admit I know nothing about Lili Elbe so I can’t comment on how much of it is factual, but the author does admit it’s only ‘loosely based’. The story of Lili and Greta has got me interested enough to want to go back and find out more about Lili and more about the beginnings of the sex altering surgery.

For me, it was impossible to read the book without the movie in my head. The movie was such a thing of beauty for me. The book was wonderful for getting more of the story. When I read the book, I found out so much more about the characters and an introduction into characters that were completely left out of the movie. Carlisle for example, who is Greta’s twin brother in the book. He plays a really important part in the book, and was one of my favourite characters. It’s a shame that he was cut out of the movie.

Honestly, I loved this book and although the movie was very different in a lot of ways I could never not love the movie as well. The story, the characters, everything about the Danish Girl is beautiful and heartwarming and heartbreaking.


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