Loosely based on the life of the first transsexual to undergo a sex change, Danish artist Einar Wegener, this novel is so much more than simply a voyeuristic glimpse into a little-known-about world. It’s about the marriage between Einar and his American wife Greta, how she copes with his alter-persona Lily – and even encourages it at times (Greta being the first person to suggest he slip into stockings so she can finish the legs of a female portrait she’s been working on, and even suggesting the name Lily). Alternating between the present day of their marriage and their respective pasts, a psychological profile is slowly woven together helping the listener fully understand the lives of these two (or three, depending on how you see it, as Einar and Greta both refer to Lily as a third person in their marriage) richly developed characters.
Woodman is the perfect storyteller for such a tale. His tone is subtle and unobtrusive, letting the prose shine. The character voice for Einar is a spot-on blend of masculinity, femininity, and vulnerability – the latter two even stronger for Lily. And he easily switches into a no-nonsense voice of strength and feminine confidence for Greta. Woodman’s pacing is slow and melodic, so the story unfolds without feelings of grandeur or shockwaves. You can listen to the inner thoughts of a man putting on a dress, and not feel that there’s anything particularly peculiar about it.
It’s clear that Woodman knows this story isn’t necessarily about delving into the lives of the atypical it’s about love. And that’s something everyone can relate to. Colleen Oakley
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 chilled by the Baltic wind while both are painting in their studio. Her portrait model has cancelled; would he slip into a pair of women's shoes and stockings for a few moments so she can finish the painting on time?
"Of course," he answers. "Anything at all."
With that, one of the most passionate and unusual love stories of the 20th century begins.
©2000 David Ebershoff (P)2010 HighBridge Company
"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." (Amazon.com review)
“An unusual and affecting love story.” (The New York Times)
“A sophisticated and searching meditation on the nature of identity.” (Esquire)
and a penny for your thoughts
Nicely told story but what the heck kind of ending is that? What a disappointment. I won't give any spoilers but I'll say that this is a real rip off when it comes to the ending. You will have to Google sources to find out what happened. That's ridiculous. Otherwise, very nice narration.
I did not enjoy the writing. In spite of its fascinating and emotionally charged subject, the book failed to move or involve me. I did not know the background of the book before I picked it up, but like several other readers I am also perplexed by the choice to make Greta an American. Not only is she an American, but she is a stereotypical American - enterprising, optimistic and full of never say die spirit. This positive stereotype is also reflected in Greta's brother.
It is also very odd that very few of the people around the protagonist had any difficulty in accepting her identity. Even in this age when we know so much more about the concept of gender fluidity, trans sexual people face on a daily basis a lack of acceptance and empathy. It is odd that this struggle was glossed over. The author instead chose to fill up the space with countless similes and atmosphere descriptions. A lost opportunity.
The narration was average, it felt very uninvolved.
Great writing style- like painting on a canvas, although I would have preferred more information about the ending! It's suggestive but I just needed more.
I think I would have had difficulty reading some of the names/locations properly, and the narrator made it simple.
A clear, smooth reading of an interesting story with some challenging words and accents.
I enjoyed this. While it isn't entirely factual, it is an interesting view of the story before and behind the first male-to-female transgender surgery, and gives a well fleshed out setting of the time this took place.
Very happy I found this book on Amazon. It's captivating. Rich characters, psychological depth. We can feel personal transformation at work.
I wanted to read the book before seeing the movie,but I don't want to see the movie, because I found the book fairly boring. it seemed to ramble and meander and Lily was milqetoast before and after she became a woman.
Homemaker, married to Dave Bargar, mother of 8, Christian, Seventh-day Adventist, love to read!
An amazing glimpse into a world I cannot even imagine. Filled me with empathy for others struggling with these issues.
This was the second audiobook I've listened to with the cast split between Male and Female. The writing is beautiful, and is only bettered by the narrator who was able to perfectly and flawlessly transition between the masculine and feminine parts.
Audible started me reading fiction again. What a treat to have professional actors narrating a book I may not have had the time to "read".
This book was very dull and terribly boring and didn't live up to the hype The author describes in painfully slow and overdone detail about "things" and "places"'not people. In fact you will learn very little about anyone in this man's life.Very little is written about the actual physical transformation of this young man into a young woman. If you keep reading because you want to find out how it all turns out,don't bother. There is literally NO ENDING. I know I'm shouting but I feel ripped off by this "Frankenstein like "medical experiment that was supposedly based on a real person. To sum it all up it I feel it was falsely advertised. Save your credit.
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