Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Book Review: The Danish Girl

Title: The Danish Girl 
Author: David Ebershoff
Genre: Historical Fiction, Transgender
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is a fictionalized story. It's important to know going into The Danish Girl that this is NOT meant to be a history of Lili Elbe's story. It is inspired by her story and uses key milestones from her life but most everything else is made up. In my copy there is a lovely afterword by the author where David Ebershoff  discusses the reasons he wrote the novel and the atmosphere and point he was trying to make. 

While a beautifully written story it is not a page turner (which is okay) as it's more an atmospheric book that is fronted by confusion. Lili's confusion towards what she should or should not be. 

Remember it's the 1920's transgender is unheard of and any other medical diagnosis you might feel belong to Lili just aren't known at this time. Therefore I think it's appropriate that they are not discussed here. 

The actual story, in my opinion, is less Lili's story and more Greta's. They say the ultimate form of love is being able to let the person you love go if that will make them most happy. With absolute certainty then Greta loves her husband and Lili. She is the instigator of so many things that she clearly understood Lili had a yearning for. Without Greta there to support and encourage Lili may never have come to be and remained suppressed inside Einar resulting in a subpar life for both of them. 

This love story is not gushing, descriptively romantic or over the top and even at times boring. Instead it's very realistic and portrays the way long term love in a favourable and intimate way. I think many will believe that Lili and Greta are not in love because there are no obvious, out right moments; for me the most intimate of moments is that they share a bed through it all and their finger curl is extremely poignant and lovely. 

Having been with my common-law husband for almost ten years I can tell you we have our moments of "ultimate romance" but they are not near as important as the little things we do for each other everyday to show one another our love. And I think The Danish Girl shows this type of intimate love that is truly only known in the bedroom of the two people who share it.

Overall I'm glad I read this book, but I'm not sure I would ever reread it. However I will proudly display it in my library as a piece of literature that I think is worthy of a spot in anyone's collection.

1 comment:

Leonore Winterer said...

You seem to have a good eye for interesting books :)