Though the title character of David Ebershoff's debut novel is a transsexual, The Danish Girl is less explicitly concerned with transgender issues than the mysterious and ineffable nature of love and transformation in relationships.
Loosely based on the life of Danish painter Einar Wegener who, in 1931, became the first man to undergo a sex-change operation, The Danish Girl borrows the bare bones of his story as a starting point for an exploration of how Wegener's decisions affected the people around him. Chief among these is his Californian wife, Greta, also a painter, who unwittingly sets her husband's feet on the path to transformation when, trying to finish a portrait, she asks Einar to stand in for her female sitter. Putting on her clothes and shoes, he is shaken:
Einar could concentrate only on the silk dressing his skin, as if it were a bandage. Yes, that was how it felt the first time: the silk was so fine and airy that it felt like a gauze--a balm-soaked gauze lying delicately on healing skin. Even the embarrassment of standing before his wife began to no longer matter, for she was busy painting with a foreign intensity in her face. Einar was beginning to enter a shadowy world of dreams where Anna's dress could belong to anyone, even to him.Greta encourages her husband not only to dress like a woman, but to take on a woman's persona, as well. What starts out as a harmless game soon evolves into something deeper, and potentially threatening to their marriage. Yet Greta's love proves to be enduring if not immutable.
Ebershoff's historical prestidigitation is remarkable, making it seem easy to create the sights and sounds and smells of 1930s Denmark. Even more remarkable is his treatment of Greta: he gets inside her head and heart, and renders her in such loving detail that her reactions make perfect sense. Ebershoff's sensitivity to Greta is one of the finest achievements of this startling first novel; Einar is more of a cipher. In the end, this is Greta's book and David Ebershoff has done her proud. --Sheila Bright --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is a curiously touching tale, told in a lucid and sensitive style (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)
An enthralling read (THE TIMES)
A beautifully written novel . . . elegant, assured and intelligent (DAILY EXPRESS)
The intelligence and tactfulness of his exploration of [love] makes his novel a noteworthy event (NEW YORK TIMES)
A first novel of startling refinement and beauty (Chicago Tribune)
Heartbreaking and unforgettable, it is a complete triumph (Boston Globe)
Beautifully written. It is absolutely engrossing . . . [an] elegant, assured and intelligent tale; as a first noivel, it is astounding (SUNDAY EXPRESS)
Intriguing and captivating . . . a resonant fable about metamorphosis and the construction of identity. This admirable book deserves to find a wide readership (DAILY TELEGRAPH)
Be enchanted by THE DANISH GIRL . . . elegant and sensitive writing (ELLE)
[An] affecting and graceful debut (NEW STATESMAN)
The book is a sensuous treat, its symbolic visual imagery combining with mesmeric recreations of period and place . . . Einar and his wife are treated with sympathy, and a potentially sensational or bizarre subject is treated with dignity (ART NEWSPAPER)
This is a curiously touching take, told in lucid and sensitive style that shows great insight into an extraordinary predicament . . . an engrossing story of true love, suffering and sacrifice (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)
Thoroughly enjoyed the read. Something different from the run of the mill. Would suggest everyone to give it a read.Published 2 months ago by yogamichele
Beautifully written! An amazing story full of, fun, love and emotion. A difficult theme to portray, but rotten with sensitivity and understanding.Published 4 months ago by HMR
The sad truth about sexual orientation and the bravory of a man determind to do whatever it took to find his true self. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Carole Jutelet
Absolutely brilliant. Normally not the sort of story I would go for. It is so well written. I would deffinetly recomend this especially if your a first time reader of Ebershoff. Read morePublished on 26 Mar. 2013 by Peter Hart
I bought this book after reading another of his novels, "The 19th Wife" thinking it would be in the same style... Read morePublished on 12 Sept. 2010 by J. Mcfadden