The Danish Girl (英語) ペーパーバック – 2001/2/1
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Now an Academy Award-winning major motion picture, starring Academy Award-winners Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander and directed by Academy Award-winner Tom Hooper
National Bestseller * A New York Times Notable Book * Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction * Winner of the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters * Finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Award * Finalist for the American Library Association Stonewall Book Award
Loosely 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 favor 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’s lush prose and generous emotional insight make it, after the last page is turned, a deeply moving first novel about one of the most passionate and unusual love stories of the 20th century.
Praise for The Danish Girl
“Heartbreaking and unforgettable . . . a complete triumph.”—The Boston Globe
“An unusual and affecting love story.”—The New York Times
“A sophisticated and searching meditation on the nature of identity.”—Esquire
“It is nearly impossible not to be moved.”—The Baltimore Sun
I just didn't buy the characters. Surely the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery would be someone who was brave, strong-willed, and probably a colourful personality. Lili struck me as the sort of person who simply accepts whatever life brings, without resistance; childlike and timid. Greta, as a physically striking and very wealthy American, also seemed like a square peg in a round hole. She swings back and forth between being hesitant to even speak to her husband, and playing the role of controlling mother to him. I struggled to get a sense of who she really was. I don't know what the original people (who inspired this novel) were like, but I imagine them to be bolder, louder, and so much more colourful than the subtle shades-of-grey Lili and Greta are drawn with.
I'm not sure where the reader sits with this novel. The writing style is to create small details with the reader linking them together to see the bigger picture. But sometimes we sit close to the characters; and sometimes they are subjects that we're studying. For example, there's an unspoken suggestion about where the doctor is taking his donor organs, and it's shocking; sending the reader's mind reeling. But the characters are completely aloof from it, which has the effect of pushing the reader back from the story.
And finally, there was no humour in this novel - never a light moment, or little black humour to inspire a grim smile. No moment when the reader could share a smile with any of the characters, or with the author. Personally, I found that made the characters and their story difficult to access.
I hope that’s a fair and helpful review. I read a number of reviews before I bought the book, and they were all glowing in their praise so obviously there are a lot of readers out there who will love this story. But it didn’t suit me at all, and it was a relief to reach the final page.
Even for those outside this community this story will be compelling, enlightening, and should rip the heart in sympathy from any reader.
I believe that this book should be required reading for any course in Womens Studies, Psychology, Social Work, Criminal Justice, ....any field where policies are to be made that would impact the Transgender person.
The Powers that be in control of the Veterans Administration quickly comes to mind. They provide breast implants to XX chromosome Veterans who have had a mastectomy or massive weight loss.... stating that this "cosmetic procedure" --"enhances their self-image, and may increase their longevity"... but for XY women....Transgender Veterans, the same gift is denied... even though the same " Self image" is the case....and as for " longevity"? They have a 50% attempted suicide rate.
This book could generate a great deal of understanding, leading to policy change.
While I knew the bones of this historic surgery, that left enormous gaps in the lives which drove the patient to risk so much pain and death to have her body be matched to her authentic inner self... and the depth of her relationship with a lover and wife able to love, support, and release her to follow that oh so perilous and painful path toward dreams of a complete transition. We cannot KNOW all the inner lives of the cast during this time, but this story feels very true to a handful of quite dramatic times and lives. We can learn from and share from this haunting and beautiful telling of the story the depths of sorrow and the heights of ambition that fill the lives of those with gender identity disorder or the intersexed among us. It succeeds brilliantly in that regard, beyond being simply a spectacular novel.
I seldom review novels, perhaps 2% of those that I read unless I am very significantly moved by it and feel that I have learned and grown as a human being by the experience. No novel that I have read in the last few decades has moved me as greatly as has The Danish Girl. I will be strongly recommending it to all my friends.