The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff – Book Review | LibroLiv

Rating: 4/5 stars

Suitable for Fans of: Jeffrey Eugenides


27864391Loosely 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.

The Danish Girl is an evocative and deeply moving novel about one of the most passionate and unusual love stories of the 20th century.

Goodreads Status Updates:

5%: “Really intriguing beginning. Einar appears really elegant and appreciative so far which is a really nice perspective to read from.”

22%: “It’s a little slow-moving at present…”


“Einar was beginning to enter a shadowy world of dreams where Anna’s dress could belong to anyone, even to him.”

To say this book educated me is an understatement.

My previous understanding of the transgender community is so limited, I now resent my infantile past self for assuming she knew so much.

She didn’t.

I do, however, also thank my past self, for she picked this book up in the first place. Good idea.

To separate this books quality and how it made me feel is a difficult feat. Obviously, the story was beautiful – even the synopsis gave me chills – and it was so current to our evolutionary world that I was routinely shocked when I was reminded that this novel is set in the 1920s, post WW1, pre WW2. The struggles Einar and Lili battle are the kind people worldwide battle everyday in the 21st century, and – with the LGBTQ community growing and aiding more people everyday – such a battle couldn’t be more current.

So, in terms of storyline, that’s a big thumbs up from me!

As aforementioned in my Goodreads updates, Einar is a very appreciative narrator. What I mean to say is that Ebershoff’s writing is very beautiful; he takes his time describing the surroundings, doing so in a careful and elegant way. However, this is just as Einar, and you can easily tell the difference between narrators via Ebershoff altering his writing style. Frankly, Lili and Greta are much more emotional and straight to the point with said emotions than Einar is; they spend less time considering their surroundings, and more time considering their history, and how to deal with the issues facing them at that point. This contrast was a really nice mixture of perspectives to read from.

My only complaint with such a perfect book would be its pacing. At times, the pacing was perfect, and I was fully immersed in the story, and interested in everything that was happening as if the characters were my friends. (That’s how nicely Ebershoff writes – it develops a home-from-home feeling.) However, many of the chapters felt a little slow and dragged out for my taste. Obviously, I can appreciate the fact that such a touching story should be expressed in detail, but what really slowed this book down was a combination of excessive detail, complex terminology, and – at times – a lack of action. I.E. Reading about Lili shopping in town on multiple occasions got a little tedious.

In terms of how this book made me feel, it primarily evoked the idea that I was uneducated in the field of trans people. At school, LGBTQ gets as far as the ‘B’, mainly focusses on the ‘G’, and blatantly ignores ‘T’ and ‘Q’. Thus, I was uneducated on this subject, yet diving into the deep end and choosing to read such a book was the first step to ensuring I become educated. I’m really interested by this topic, and it was so eye-opening to read a true story – despite this fictitious adaptation on Ebershoff’s part – on the topic. Never before have I read such an emotional story about real people. The choices and decisions made by each and every character in this book are so selfless, so arduous, so contentious, and so brave. This collection of people are the strongest I’ve ever read about.

Thus, overall, and taking all the previous notes into consideration, I decided to award this book 4/5 stars. Next on my to do list: watch the movie!

You can find the book here: Amazon | Goodreads

The Danish Girl is a work of historical fiction, and so I am entering this novel for the number 32 spot on the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge: A historical fiction book. Yay!

6 thoughts on “The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff – Book Review | LibroLiv

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