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Review: The Danish Girl

May 4, 2010

Danish artist Einer Wegener and his artist wife, Greta, live a simple life in Copenhagen in the 1920’s.  Einer paints landscapes while Greta paints portraits.  Greta is almost through with a portrait, but the subject had to cancel her sitting, so Greta asks Einer to wear the shoes, hose and dress that she has been wearing.  Einer discovers that he enjoys it and finds himself dressing as “Lili” more and more often.  Greta even encourages it at first.

When Einer is dressed as Lili, he’s completely transformed and it seems that Lili is beginning to take over his life, and it’s even beginning to affect Einer’s health.  Greta, and her twin brother Carlisle,  seek a solution by speaking to every doctor they can think of.  Greta thinks she’s found the answer, and encourages Einer to seek help.

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff is loosely based on the story of Einer Wegener, a Danish artist who lived from 1882 to 1931.  I was a little confused at the beginning of the book when Lili was referred to as she (since Lili is actually a man dressed as a woman at that point), until I realized that Einer actually felt like a she when he was dressed as Lili.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the story of Einer Wegner is fascinating.  I had no idea that there were people as open to the ideas presented in this book during the early part of the 20th century.

Deep down inside, this book is a love story and I was caught up in it, but would have liked to have known more of the characters emotions.  At times, I felt they were too distant for me to really get involved in their story. I admired Greta for her love, support and devotion of her husband, even when he was Lili.  I also felt for Lili, because I know it must have been difficult and exhausting to feel the way she did.

I enjoyed The Danish Girl even though I found it a little plodding at times.  I had to know what was going to happen to Einer, though, and have found myself googling him ever since I read the book.  (That’s a picture of Lili to the left.)  His story is remarkable.

Lasse Hallstrom will be directing a movie version of The Danish Girl, starring Nicole Kidman (who will also be the producer).  It’s a movie I won’t want to miss.

Review copy provided by the author for this TLC Book Tour.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.

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43 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2010 5:24 am

    That had to have come from nowhere. Talk about a latent tendency!

  2. May 4, 2010 5:34 am

    I love when a book peaks my interests and I go on to do my own research. Sounds interesting.

  3. May 4, 2010 6:54 am

    Sounds like an interesting book. I have a hard time when books plod in sections, but if I’m interested enough in the story I’ll plow through those parts. Thanks for the honest review.

  4. May 4, 2010 7:25 am

    Life offers up such interesting stories. Sounds great. I might have to do some googling.

  5. May 4, 2010 7:26 am

    I don’t think I’ll miss the movie either! It sounds really neat.

  6. Kaye permalink
    May 4, 2010 7:44 am

    It does sound interesting. It’s too bad the author didn’t give you more of a feeling for the characters’ emotions. I would imagine Lili felt very torn inside. I can see where it would have been a little confusing reading at first.

  7. May 4, 2010 7:48 am

    Google–I do the exact same thing when I need to know what the true story is.
    Nice review.

  8. May 4, 2010 7:55 am

    I love to read about paintings and art like Monet, etc. The details of the book are far from what I expected. Life always brings surprises.

    This is one of my most favorite sites among other blogs because good ones just keep coming along. I feel, not the first time, keeping up with all the mail is becoming difficult. If any of my friends who read this, I hope you will understand. Since Dick and Jane, I have loved books. I will always continue to read as long as my health allows. I might lurk some days, do one thing or another. Thanks to all my buddies.

  9. May 4, 2010 8:06 am

    It does sound interesting!

  10. May 4, 2010 8:09 am

    I read another book by this author, THE 19TH WIFE. I really liked it. This one sounds intriguing. I think this must have been an earlier book for David Ebershoff. Thanks for sharing, Kathy!

  11. May 4, 2010 8:18 am

    I am thinking like you…would not have thought that in that era, someone would be open to that situation. Interesting.
    CMash

  12. May 4, 2010 8:18 am

    That does sound fascinating. I’ll check and see if my library has this one.

  13. May 4, 2010 8:38 am

    This does sound fascinating! Like you, I’d want to know more about the facts!

  14. May 4, 2010 10:27 am

    What did we all do before Google? I love when a book makes me want to learn more about the subject, location etc. With Nicole Kidman, I’m sure the movie will be good as well.

  15. May 4, 2010 11:01 am

    This book sounds very interesting. Like you, I had no idea that this would be going on during the early 20th century, and I think I would find it fascinating to delve into this couple’s unusual life and see just what the situation was like. Great review! I am glad that you liked the book, and after reading your review, I am adding this one to my wish list!

  16. May 4, 2010 11:06 am

    I love that you found a picture! So cool.

    Thanks for being on the tour. It’s too bad you didn’t feel more of an emotional connection but it sounds like the story was fascinating.

  17. May 4, 2010 12:43 pm

    Kathy, great review as usual. It sounds like a fascinating story.

  18. Let's Read permalink
    May 4, 2010 1:23 pm

    I have to google too, it’s sounds so fascinating..I will keep an eye out for the movie, but I want to read the book too..it’s hard to relate to this kind of life personally but as an outsider maybe we can get some perspective about people with different lifestyle… as usual wonderful review.

  19. May 4, 2010 1:32 pm

    I just started on the book today, hopefully will have it read in time to do my review in 5 days. I’m loving it so far and am finding it to be simple, but beautifuly written and I’m really enjoying the characters.

  20. May 4, 2010 2:23 pm

    I find this time period fascinating, and that alone makes me want to read this.

  21. May 4, 2010 2:41 pm

    It is strange to think that society was more accepting of this, it’s reminding of something I read before about men traditionally playing roles of women in theatre during the Renaissance… hmm can’t remember where I read about that. But it makes me want to check out this book for sure.

  22. May 4, 2010 3:55 pm

    I was really interested in this when I first heard about its premise. Good to hear that it lived up to it!

  23. May 4, 2010 7:49 pm

    This book sounds interesting. Not my normal sort of read but you do have me curious.

  24. May 4, 2010 11:28 pm

    Sounds very intriguing! I love reading about true stories I would have never heard about otherwise.

  25. May 5, 2010 1:28 am

    I had never heard of this book before but it sounds so intriguing that I have to have it! Thanks for introducing us to it. 🙂

  26. May 5, 2010 3:11 am

    This book sounds really intriguing. But I think I will wait for the movie 🙂

  27. May 5, 2010 8:47 am

    This sounds good. Not many books about cross dressing. Pleased to hear it will be a film too.

  28. May 5, 2010 9:11 am

    I agree with others, it sounds fascinating. Thanks for mentioning this book!

  29. May 5, 2010 9:43 am

    sounds like a fascinating love story. The cover is striking, too, for some reason.

  30. May 5, 2010 10:51 am

    This definitely sounds like an interesting story but I’m not sure if it would be my cup of tea. I also enjoy getting close with the characters. Definitely will be looking forward to the movie though!

  31. May 5, 2010 3:48 pm

    I’m fascinated by this story…sounds like a very engaging one!

  32. stacybuckeye permalink
    May 5, 2010 4:39 pm

    Interesting story. I think I might wait for the movie.

  33. May 5, 2010 4:51 pm

    I’ve been very curious about this book ever since you mentioned it at book club. Not sure if I want to read it, but I’m glad to hear your thoughts!

  34. Kathleen permalink
    May 5, 2010 7:01 pm

    The premise is intriguing and even more so when I know that it is loosely based on real events. I’m not sure I’ve heard other stories like this from that time period.

  35. May 5, 2010 8:50 pm

    That is one supportive and understanding wife. I can imagine it would be a quite an interesting book … and movie.

  36. May 6, 2010 9:48 am

    I would have never thought, this is what the book was about. Sounds interesting. Seems to me that back then, some things were quietly accepted although not spoken about, unlike today when everyone tends to blab and discuss everything openly.
    Not to say that is wrong, but TMI people.
    Thanks for the recommendation.
    He looks pretty good as Lili.

  37. May 6, 2010 1:11 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read this since I read The 19th Wife. The premise especially interests me. Thanks for your great review.

  38. May 6, 2010 4:03 pm

    That sounds terrific! He did such a great job on The 19th Wife, I imagine he would make this a fascinating read as well.

  39. May 6, 2010 8:09 pm

    I’m pretty fascinated by this book, mainly because I’m curious to understand how Greta supported her husband through this. It’s not always a woman won’t mind her husband’s desire to be a woman. It can be a downright creepy idea. I need to read this.

  40. May 6, 2010 10:46 pm

    I totally agree–this really is a love story. I was so taken by Greta–imagine being so willing to do what she did.

  41. May 7, 2010 8:10 am

    I just finished this book and reviewed it today. I found it fascinating and was enthralled with this story. I had to google and do research about the “real” Einar as well.

  42. May 9, 2010 11:42 am

    This indeed is fascinating. I want to read this. This is a movie I wouldn’t want to miss too.

  43. May 14, 2010 12:54 pm

    Even though its slow in parts, the subject matter sounds fascinating. I’ll keep this one in mind, especially since I really liked Ebershoff’s The 19th Wife.

    –Anna

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