Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Danish Girl” as Want to Read:
The Danish Girl
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

The Danish Girl

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  20,246 ratings  ·  2,213 reviews
A stunning first novel that probes the mysteries of sex, gender, and love with insight and subtlety Inspired by the true story of Danish painter Einar Wegener and his California-born wife, this tender portrait of a marriage asks: What do you do when someone you love wants to change? It starts with a question, a simple favor asked of a husband by his wife on an afternoon ch ...more
Kindle Edition, 270 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Penguin Books (first published 2000)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Danish Girl, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Josephine Lili wrote a great deal of the content for a book entitled Man Into Woman which is a semi-autobiographical book about her.

It was compiled and publishe…more
Lili wrote a great deal of the content for a book entitled Man Into Woman which is a semi-autobiographical book about her.

It was compiled and published after her death.

That book has Recently been republished under the Title: Lili: A Portrait of the First Sex Change(less)
Kitten Having read the book after I saw the movie, I'd suggest you give it a shot. It is somewhat different, gives new information and definitely isn't just …moreHaving read the book after I saw the movie, I'd suggest you give it a shot. It is somewhat different, gives new information and definitely isn't just the dialogue with "he said, she said" added to it.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  20,246 ratings  ·  2,213 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Danish Girl
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Danish Girl is a delicate, elegant novel about the search for one’s true self when one’s body, as an external encasement, doesn’t mirror what is on the inside; in short, when a man is born a man in body but not in spirit. It is also about what makes a marriage and how far a woman will go to let her husband find his true self, knowing that she will likely lose him in the process.

The novel is based on real characters who lived in Copenhagen in the 1920s. The story was groundbreaking at the ti
This book does a terrible job of showing the lived experience of a trans individual. Rather than demonstrate the difficult journey of a member of the trans community, this author chose to portray the experience of someone with dissociative identity disorder which is definitely not the same thing. What I find particularly grating is that the source material is exponentially more interesting than the schlock written here. The artistic liberties the author took to flesh out his version of the story ...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Every year I set a reading goal here on Goodreads and then search Pinterest for a reading challenge list. This year's list has 52 categories in which I need to read by the end of the year. So, obviously I searched for a category in which The Danish Girl would fit. First up was "book about a person with a disability". I know many people think transvestism falls into that category. I balked at that. Eccentric character? Well, since there is a real biological cause, this category was disrespectful. ...more
Actual rating 2.5

In the opening pages of this story, the reader is witness to the first time that Einar Wegener is asked to model for his wife’s painting. The subject of her painting, an opera singer named Anna, is otherwise engaged, and Einar does have the slender build to fit Anna’s dress, stockings, and shoes.

Einar is surprised at how much he enjoys the feel of the dress, and realises that it may be hinting at the thing he’s been missing his whole life; that he is, in fact, a woman.

And thus,
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished The Danish Girl and while I really really liked it, I also have some quibbles about a novel that mixes up historical fact with so much made-up stuff. It felt cheaty. For example, the main characters Einar and Greta Weneger have the same names as their real-life counterparts. Einar's story as he transforms into Lily is pretty close to what actually happened - at least dates, places, and a few facts. But the real Greta Weneger was totally different than the fictional one - she was Danis ...more
Jan 16, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-to-film
This book takes us on an interesting journey of Einer Wegener turns into Lili Elbe. I was intrigued, interested, and completely drawn into the time period. Set in the late 1920's-1930's against Danish Europe, we meet Greta. I've never met a character move forgiving and understanding than this one. She falls in love with Einer and returns back to Denmark to follow her heart.

One day during their marriage, she asks Einer to put on a pair of stockings and women's shoes to get the rest of her portra
Quite a lot of things bothered me about this book.

1) The multiculturalism the author tries to get across by wildly throwing around names of places in Danish, French, German - and then having the audio book narrated by a person who cannot pronounce a single word correctly in any of those languages. It's particularly annoying when the names of people are ever so Scandinavian. Like Einar. That doesn't work when pronounced in English, it just sounds like Eeyore. It is so not supposed to sound like
SUSAN   *Nevertheless,she persisted*
I was lulled to sleep by most of this book. The book,characters and storytelling fell flat.
I wanted to like/love this book,I was fascinated by the concept,the fact that it was loosely based on a true story. I was all in,but it just failed to hook me.
Perhaps it is simply a case of wrong book,wrong time.

Nov 12, 2015 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read the book, but I'm looking forward to seeing Eddie Redmayne and his freckles in this film tonight.
Jan 23, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Boring. The real people this book is based on are 1000 times more interesting. Very poor representation of a trans persons' transition. Don't read this book, it's a waste of your time.
Catherine Davison
While I found the story compelling based as it is on the true story of Einar Wegenar's transition from male to female and his wife who stayed loyal to him and supported him throughout, it was the writing which irked. I remember feeling the same irritation while reading The Nineteenth Wife. Ebershoff writes well and evokes the atmosphere of Paris, Copenhagen and Dresden in the early 1920s and 30s well, but he describes everything and everyone in similes, everyone's face was like such and such an ...more
Apr 25, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am so angry & frustrated with this. I'm aware that this was "loosely inspired" by Lili's journey, but still. This could have been a poignant portrayal with some lovely, tender scenes. But no. Somewhere along the way this turned into complete trash. UGH.

THE DANISH GIRL (sadly) didn't become on my radar until I came across the film last month (Eddie Redmayne can do no wrong) & saw that it was also a book, so of course reading it is only the natural thing to do. I was really surprised to discove
I liked it for the most part. I wish the story stayed with Lili and Greta more. I kind of got bored when the story would trail off to other characters and their stories.

My favorite part of the whole story was the fact that despite the time era I loved that Einar had such a strong support group. The people he loved most were there for him and Lili and didn't judge him. That is more than some could say even in this day and age.

Though I liked this story I feel that it will actually make a better mo
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For everyone that wants to read this book, here's a friendly advice: go watch the movie.
This was probably my least favorite book so far this year. It's not that it's bad, per se, but I just found it hard to get through. I'm looking forward to the film version which everyone says is brilliant and of course Alicia Vikander won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Gerda.

The book is a fictionalized account of a real life couple, Gerda and Einar Wegener. Einar was one of the first men to undergo a sex change operation in the 1930's. It's a love story and it's sad
Gisela Pérez
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this book we witness the gradual transformation of Einar Wegener in Lily Elbe, both physically and psychologically, which is what I enjoyed very much about the novel.
The author states in his prologue that it is not intended to be an accurate biography, but a novel, and it is noticeable if we take into consideration that apparently, one of the reasons for the couple Einar-Gerda to move to Paris was that Gerda would be free to live there as an active lesbian; in the book by Ebershoff, she seem
(3.5) About 25% into this book I described it as “delightfully boring” and I think that by the end, I’ll stick to what I said; The Danish Girl is a delightful mix of an extraordinary story and a boring account of everyday life
Molly Jones
Mar 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in complicated love stories
This historical novel, by David Ebershoff, is about the first transexual to undergo a sex change (in this case, a man who becomes a woman) set in the early 1900s. The story is an intertwining of two lives, the man who undergoes the sex change and his wife. The wife is a strong-willed Californian, who comes from a very wealthy family that wants her to accept her socialite life, which she defies by moving to Europe. She dreams of becoming a painter, but is uncertain of her talent and her focus. Sh ...more
I haven't watched the movie prior to reading the book but I was familiar with its topic although I didn't know that it was based on real events. It still remains a fictional story which was also stated in the afterword. A couple of changes have been made - I read more about Einar Wegener online after finishing the book. I can't say that I understand everything that was changed but it certainly didn't stop me from enjoying the book.

'The Danish Girl' is the story of Einar and Greta Wegener, a Dan
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So I was a little disappointed in this book, I have to say.

First, I had super high expectations, because I was lowkey obsessed with Ebershoff’s the 19th wife in high school. Must have read it 10 times. Thought it was so well done.

I had a hard time getting into this one, and staying into it. The characters frustrated me and seemed two-dimensional and washed out, the plotting and pacing is all over the place, it just wasn’t a fun read.

Also, I worry that too many people are going to think that (th
lark benobi
A novel about a historic trans person that feels dated and stilted to me, even though it was published in 2000. In a way I appreciate this novel for showing me how far and how fast we've come. Even the NY Times review of this novel from 2000 egregiously confuses sexuality with gender, whereas just the week I'm writing this thanks to Diane Sawyer's interview with Bruce Jenner a few more people understand the difference between the two. Let's hope the film of this novel coming out in fall 2015 als ...more
Sandra BASIC
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After seeing the film, almost a year ago, I can tell that Mr. Tom Hooper, the director, has done a very good job. His idea to hire Eddie Redmayne was the marvelous thing ever. When you're reading author's descriptions of Einar/Lili, you could see no one but Eddie. I've had no problem reading the book after the film, because they are completely different things and both of them were great.

Despite the fact that this book is work of fiction, Einar Wegener was a real person, one of the first recipie
Monica **can't read fast enough**
I don't understand how a book with this subject matter can be such a dry and difficult read, but it's possible and this is. I stopped and started this one quite a few times. It was pure stubbornness and the fact that I wanted to finish it before seeing the movie that enabled me to make it to the end. It took me 8 days to finish this 270 page book. I can't believe that I'm saying this, but the movie has got to be better than this book. Full review to come.
Mens Rea
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You can find this and more book review on my blog: My Bookshelf Dialogues

Book synopsis:
On a cool afternoon at the Widow House, Greta Wegener asks her husband Einar for a small favour. Her friend Anna who sits for her paintings has cancelled again, and Greta prodes Einar to try on a dress and sit in Anna's place instead. This simple request from his wife stirs Einar to the core where he discovers, deep inside his soul, a second individual sharing his body for 35 years, Lili. Thus, begins the tran
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2017
An elegant love story between a woman and the man who is changing before her eyes. This beautifully written narration follows Einar as he comes to discover Lili while his wife, Greta, encourages and supports him during the process. It starts with such an innocent suggestion, to pose in place of a singer that Greta is painting. Such a simple little thing, but it sparks into so much more. Einar soon begins to free Lili with the gentle urging of Greta. So begins the journey of his transition.

Jodie L
Dec 06, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is great if you have any problems sleeping!
Dec 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Short of It:

A non-traditional love story that will stay with you long after you put it down.

The Rest of It:

I absolutely loved this novel. The novel itself was inspired by the marriage of Einar and Gerda Wegener, both artists living in Copenhagen in 1925. As Einar realizes that he is indeed a woman, seemingly trapped in a man's body, he becomes Lili and the three of them live together as a family of sorts. At first, he dresses as Lili in the privacy of the apartment that he shares with Greta
Mel (Epic Reading)
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-print
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
Hana Gashi
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, favorites
I am so overwhelmed, I can't even beeegin to write a review. I love Greta!!!!! Her unconditional love for Einar and Lili was breathtaking. Are you ever proud of fictional characters? Because, I am. I am proud of everyone, Lili the most.

David, you have a golden heart.
Sep 13, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read David Ebershoff's "The Nineteenth Wife" and I quite enjoyed it. I was looking forward to this because it sounded so thought provoking. Unfortunately, I did not find the characters realistic at all. I found it very strange how few people reacted negatively to Lille/Einar. I imagine a man who wants to live as a woman in early 20th century Europe would face a lot more adversity than disapproval by a few doctors and his father. I also found Greta unrealistic. She attempted to smother her firs ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
UB Libraries Book...: The Danish Girl 10 15 Mar 07, 2017 06:28AM  
2017 Reading Chal...: The Danish Girl 1 19 Jul 24, 2016 08:37PM  
Nashville Bound B...: Discuss The Danish Girl 1 18 Mar 08, 2016 07:23AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • My Lucky Stroke
  • A Terceira Índia
  • Já não se escrevem cartas de amor
  • Tatitatitati
  • Raízes - O Campo na Cidade
  • Sonetos Completos de Florbela Espanca
  • Em sẽ đến cùng cơn mưa
  • Cosmopolitanism and Culture
  • The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology
  • The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths
  • Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics
  • Re-Enchantment
  • Technics and Time, 2: Disorientation
  • The Return of the Real: Art and Theory at the End of the Century
  • Rich Without Money
  • The Price of Salt
  • The Song Before it is Sung
  • Encontrar-me, Encontrar-te, Encontrá-lo
See similar books…
David Ebershoff is the author of four books, including The Danish Girl and the #1 bestseller The 19th Wife. The Danish Girl has been adapted as a major motion picture starring Academy Award-winner Eddie Redmayne and directed by Academy Award-winning director of The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper. The 19th Wife was made into a television movie that has aired around the globe. Ebershoff's books have been ...more

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
36 likes · 16 comments
“Einar felt lonely, and he wondered if anybody in the world would ever know him.” 13 likes
“And wasn't that the inexhaustible struggle for Greta? Her perpetual need to be alone but always loved, and in love.” 6 likes
More quotes…