The Danish Girl: you’ve seen the film, but did you know there was a book? 17



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When the novel The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff was published in 2000, it won the Lambda Literary Award for transgender fiction. It won praise as “A stunning first novel that probes the mysteries of sex, gender, and love with insight and subtlety”.

Danish GirlInspired by the true story of Danish painter Einar Wegener and his California-born wife Greta Waud, 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 favour asked by a wife of her husband, setting off a transformation neither can anticipate.

The Wegener’s have been married for six years but are yet to have a child. They live a bohemian life in Copenhagen until one day their lives are irreversibly altered.

The Danish Girl eloquently shows the intimacy that defines a marriage and the nearly forgotten story of the love between a man who discovers that he is, in fact, a woman, and his wife who would sacrifice anything for him.

Set against the glitz and decadence of 1920s Copenhagen, Paris and Dresden, and inspired by a true story, of the one of the first men to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

The Danish Girl is about one of the most unusual marriages of the twentieth century and is now a major movie starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, both nominated for Oscars for their roles.

Author David Ebershoff’s most recent novel is the #1 bestseller The 19th Wife, which was made into a television movie that has aired around the globe. He is also the author of the novel Pasadena and the collection of short stories The Rose City. His books have been translated into twenty languages to critical acclaim.

Ebershoff has appeared twice on Out magazine’s annual Out 100 list of influential LGBT people. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Columbia University and has worked for many years as an editor at Random House. Originally from California, he lives in New York City.

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff is available now from Dymocks.

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Karen O'Brien-Hall

I've had many careers in my life and loved each one! My new career blossomed when I retired and become an OAP. I am passionate about childhood literacy, books in general and my garden. I love Ballet, Opera, Concerts, Theatre, (both professional and community) and Movies. I tend to have opinions on most things and enjoy a good debate about the topic, not the person. In my thirties, I married my GOM (Gorgeous or Grumpy Old Man) the love of my life.

  1. As a former librarian, always the book. There have been some wonderful film adaptations of great books, but too often they are a disappointment. Why change a good story so much that it ends up having no resemblance to the book whatsoever?

    1 REPLY
    • That happens so often doesn’t it Kathy. A good example is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which I live as a movie, but the book is so moving.

  2. I usually prefer the book, but will often see a film from a book. A film is just one group of people’s interpretation of a book. Saw the Revenant of those above. I haven’t read the book but the film is, in my opinion, vastly over-rated.

  3. Always the book. Very rarely see a film version of a book – made a mistake with “The Horse Whisperer” (really only because I love Robert Redford) and they completely stuffed it up – an ending that in no way resembled the book. In fact, quite the opposite to the book’s ending.

    1 REPLY
    • If I have read the book, I usually don’t go to see the movie because I know I’ll probably be disappointed. I, like you, made an exception to see The Horse Whisperer, because, quite frankly, I would go to see Robert Redford in anything and I even forgave the stuffed up ending! He is very cute still!

  4. I prefer to read the book first. But, saying that, when reading, I often build up in my mind, how the character looks, sounds, behaves. Then a script writer & director ruin it all for me in the adaptation 😟 A good example is “Gone Girl” – book great, film disappointing

    1 REPLY
    • It happens to me also Rhonda and I’m beginning to think it is better to see the movie because at least then I can overlay the actors onto the characters without being disappointed in who they cast. Gollum from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings has never been cast to my image of him, not just in the recent movies but in other adaptations, including a stage production.

  5. It is always difficult to do a book justice as a film. There are nuances and descriptions in a book that would be very difficult to transfer to film. Some adaptations are better than others.

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