Best Books of the Month Shop Men's Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Janet Jackson All-New Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Grocery Amazon Gift Card Offer jrscwrld jrscwrld jrscwrld  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Fall Arrivals in Amazon Outdoor Clothing Learn more
The Danish Girl and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Danish Girl Hardcover – February 7, 2000

56 customer reviews

See all 10 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$65.84 $7.02

"Girl Waits with Gun" by Amy Stewart
From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs. Learn more

Editorial Reviews Review

Though the title character of David Ebershoff's debut novel is a transsexual, the book is less concerned with transgender issues than the mysterious and ineffable nature of love. Loosely based on the life of Danish painter Einar Wegener who, in 1931, became the first man to undergo a sex-change operation, The Danish Girl borrows the bare bones of his story as a jumping-off point for an exploration of how Wegener's decisions affected the people around him. Chief among these is his Californian wife, Greta, also a painter, who unwittingly sets her husband's feet on the path to transformation. While trying to finish a portrait of an opera singer who has cancelled a sitting, she asks Einar to stand in for her subject, putting on her dress, stockings, and shoes. The moment silk touches his skin, he is shaken:

Einar could concentrate only on the silk dressing his skin, as if it were a bandage. Yes, that was how it felt the first time: the silk was so fine and airy that it felt like a gauze--a balm-soaked gauze lying delicately on healing skin. Even the embarrassment of standing before his wife began to no longer matter, for she was busy painting with a foreign intensity in her face. Einar was beginning to enter a shadowy world of dreams where Anna's dress could belong to anyone, even to him.
Greta soon recognizes her husband's affinity for feminine attire, and encourages him not only to dress like a woman, but to take on a woman's persona, as well. "Why don't we call you Lili?" she suggests. What starts out as a harmless game soon evolves into something deeper, and potentially threatening to their marriage. Yet Greta's love proves to be enduring if not immutable. As Einar inexorably transforms, he steps beyond "that small dark space between two people where a marriage exists" and Greta lets him go.

Ebershoff does a remarkable job of historical prestidigitation, creating the sights and sounds and smells of 1930s Denmark and making it seem easy. Even more remarkable is his treatment of Greta: he gets inside her head and heart, and renders her in such loving detail that her reactions make perfect sense. Einar is more of a cipher, and ultimately less interesting than his wife. But in the end, this is Greta's book and David Ebershoff has done her proud. The Danish Girl marks a promising fictional debut. --Sheila Bright

From Publishers Weekly

Ebershoff, the publishing director at Modern Library, has taken a highly unusual subject--and a big chance--for his first novel. That it comes off triumphantly is a tribute to his taste and restraint and to the highly empathetic quality of his imagination. His book is based on the real-life story of Einar Wegener, a Danish artist who 70 years ago became the first man to be medically transformed into a woman--long before the much better-known case of Christine Jorgensen. Ebershoff has naturally changed some of the characters, giving Einar an American wife from his own native city of Pasadena, thereby introducing a New World perspective on the drama. For a very real drama it is. Einar struggles with his inclinations to become the woman he and his wife, Greta, refer to as Lili, seemingly more agonized about what the change would mean than Greta, who is deeply loving and amazingly supportive throughout Einar's long ordeal. Seldom has the delicate question of sexual identity been more subtly probed (one would have to go all the way back to Jan Morris's autobiographical Conundrum); and Ebershoff's remarkable feel for the period atmosphere and detail of 1920s Copenhagen and early-'30s Dresden, where Lili's life-transforming operation is finally performed, has been poetically and intensely rendered. The portraits of the various medical men who offer their very different solutions to the problem are brilliantly accomplished. The original story ended much more unhappily than Ebershoff's, but his poignant and visionary conclusion is a fitting one for what is, above all, and despite its sensationalist trimmings, a profound and beautifully realized love story. Eight-city author tour; rights sold in Germany, Italy, U.K., Spain, Australia, Brazil, Finland, Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark. (Feb.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

See all Editorial Reviews

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (February 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670888087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670888085
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Ebershoff's debut novel, The Danish Girl, won the 2000 Lambda Literary Award for transgender fiction and has been adapted into a major motion picture starring Academy Award-winner Eddie Redmayne. His 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By PR on February 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Okay, I'll admit it: I picked up this novel because of its subject matter. I was interested to learn about the first person to undergo gender-reassignment surgery (1931! ), but more so, I was curious to see how the author would handle this amazing story. I was--simply put--blown away. The Danish Girl is not a novelization of an amazing historical anecdote--it is a beautifully written, senstively-handled, and deeply-engaging novel that it absolutely one of the best I have read in recent years. Here is a book that truly makes the reader stop and question one of our most rigidly held fundaments of identity, gender. And the book does so by convincingly rendering its characters of Greta and Einar and Lili. What a romantic and moving book! Not only in its landscapes--Denmark's bogs, fog-dimmed streets in 1930s Paris, a river bank in pre-WWII Dresden all beautifully captured with an eye as painterly as Einar's--but in its moving story of the love between Greta and Einar and, noteably, Greta and Lili. I thought the book a poignant and sophisticated portrait of a marriage, with all its complexity and complications, that changes as Greta and her husband both do. The Danish Girl I would recommend--and am recommending--to all readers I know.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Danish Girl is compulsively readable - primarily because the three characters Einar/Lili and Greta are so finely and fully realized. That a story which on the surface should be so unlikely - i.e., that a woman would help her husband find the "girl within" - becomes so inevitable on the page is, I believe, the author's greatest achievement. It's wonderful that Greta (the wife) herself does not fully understand why she's helping Einar/Lili but that her motivations - conscious and subconscious - are revealed slowly throughout the course of the book both to herself and to the reader. It's also fascinating how different Greta and Einar's relationship is from Greta and Lili's, yet how complex and real and loving these relationships are. I only wish that the book hadn't ended with us knowing so little about what happened between Greta and Lili after they've moved forward in their lives. Nonetheless, this is an incredibly promising literary debut and I look forward to reading more by this author.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By JM on February 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Brilliant -- THE DANISH GIRL is just what the book doctor ordered! The utterly absorbing plot is finely crafted and the questions that Ebershoff asks about love will stay with you long after you've read the last gorgeous page (truly -- I cannot recall a more beautiful and affecting last page). Perhaps most interesting to me is the character of Greta, a woman who is brave, curious, intrepid, creative, ambitious, a bit pushy, and ultimately not afraid to follow where love, the bonds of marriage, and commitment to the creative process might lead her. But that's not to say that Einar is any less compelling! Or that the lushly detailed settings of Copenhagen, Paris, California, and the Bluetooth Bog don't deserve as much praise. I feel as if I've been on the most fantastic voyage. This author should write for TRAVEL & LEISURE, his descriptions are that lucid and riveting. If I had a bookclub, I'd love for us to choose THE DANISH GIRL as our next selection -- there is so much to talk about! I highly recommend reading this novel.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a stunning debut novel by someone who is no novice to the publishing industry, as he is the director of The Modern Library, which is a division of Random House. With this book as his entree into the ranks of novelist, Mr. Ebershoff rightly claims a place among the distinguished. This is a most elegantly written novel.
His book is loosely based upon the true story of Danish painters, Einar Wegener and Gerda Waud. They met in Copenhagen, while they were both art students, and married a few years later. He painted landscapes, while she would become known for her paintings of a mysterious sloe-eyed beauty. When it eventually became known that the model for the mysterious beauty in Gerda's paintings was, in fact, her cross-dressing husband, they became the scandal of Copenhagen. They left Denmark and sought refuge in Paris, France, where the mystery woman of Gerda's paintings began appearing in the flesh among the denizens of the Parisian demi-monde.
There is little doubt that Gerda encouraged her husband in his cross-dressing, as well as in his eventual surgical transformation. In 1930, the couple again turned the world on its head when it became known that Einar Wegener had undergone the world's first known sex re-assignment operation in Germany, and emerged as Lili Elbe. This provoked the King of Denmark himself to annul their marriage. Unfortunately, Lili Elbe's life as a surgically transformed woman ended in 1931 with her death.
The author expertly weaves these facts, which were the inspiration for this novel, into a lyrically written, haunting narrative about two people who were bound to each other by an unconditional love that would transcend the conventional. He creates an intriguing, spellbinding story that is a sensitive portrait of a most unusual marriage.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: &