The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff is a novel inspired by the true life story of Danish painters Einar Wegener and his wife Greta. The story unfolds as Greta sets the stage of transformation for Einar when she asks him to fill in for a subject who has to cancel their sitting. Einar wears the woman's shoes, hose and dress which he enjoys. Greta realizes that he is comfortable and even drawn to wearing women's clothes and encourages him to dress and take on the persona that they name Lili.
As Einar takes Lili out into the world as his cousin this is the beginning of a transformation that changes their whole world. Einar and Greta never realized how far that this could go and how it stirs in Einar a depth of unknown feelings, desires and emotions. Einar begins to spend more time as Lilli and their lives as a couple and their careers forever change.
Einar Wagner was the first man to undergo a sex change operation in 1931 and The Danish Girl loosely weaves the reality of this into the novel. This book is much more than just the story of a transsexual man. It is about identity, finding yourself and the truth about yourself and being able to have the strength to make that truth a reality. It is about marriage, love and acceptance....when someone you love suddenly changes can you support them and still love them? I had to stop and think that this actually occurred in the 1920's and early 1930's which was not a time of acceptance of sexual differences. This is a fascinating story. It's hard to understand what it must feel like when you are a man but feel that inside you are a woman. Einar was able to feel complete when he was transformed into Lili. I admired Greta for her love and dedication towards Einar even though it was painful and she was essentially losing the man she loved.
I found this novel fascinating and I kept wondering what the "real" Einar/Lili looked like and what the differences were compared to the book. Thanks to google, there is much about his life to be found and Ebershoff shares details at the end of the book.
Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow are slated to star in the movie version of The Danish Girl. I'll definitely be looking looking forward to this movie.
Check out David Ebershoff's website, here.
Read an excerpt from The Danish Girl, here.
Download an audiofile of Uma Thurman reading the first chapter of The Danish Girl, here.
Go here for a Reading Group Guide for The Danish Girl.
Disclosure: Review copy of book provided by the author as part of being part of this TLC Book Tour.
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