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Publisher's Summary

2021 New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year
2021 NPR Best Book of the Year
2021 The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year
2021 Financial Times Books of the Year

Called "a masterpiece" by The Guardian, this courageous and honest trilogy from Tove Ditlevsen, a pioneer in the field of genre-bending confessional writing, explores themes of family, sex, motherhood, abortion, addiction, and being an artist. This program contains all three volumes of her memoirs.

Tove Ditlevsen is today celebrated as one of the most important and unique voices in 20th-century Danish literature, and The Copenhagen Trilogy (1969-71) is her acknowledged masterpiece. Childhood tells the story of a misfit child’s single-minded determination to become a poet; Youth describes her early experiences of sex, work, and independence. Dependency picks up the story as the narrator embarks on the first of her four marriages and goes on to describe her horrible descent into drug addiction, enabled by her sinister, gaslighting doctor husband.

Throughout, the narrator grapples with the tension between her vocation as a writer and her competing roles as daughter, wife, mother, and drug addict, and she writes about female experience and identity in a way that feels very fresh and pertinent to today’s discussions around feminism. Ditlevsen’s trilogy is remarkable for its intensity and its immersive depiction of a world of complex female friendships, family, and growing up - in this sense, it’s Copenhagen's answer to Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels. She can also be seen as a spiritual forerunner of confessional writers like Karl Ove Knausgaard, Annie Ernaux, Rachel Cusk, and Deborah Levy. Her trilogy is drawn from her own experiences but unfolds like the most compelling kind of fiction.

Born in a working-class neighborhood in Copenhagen in 1917, Ditlevsen became famous for her poetry while still a teenager and went on to write novels, stories, and memoirs before committing suicide in 1976. Having been dismissed by the critical establishment in her lifetime as a working-class female writer, she is now being rediscovered and championed as one of Denmark's most important modern authors, with "Tove fever" gripping audiences.

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

©2021 Tove Ditlevsen (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about The Copenhagen Trilogy

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  • Overall
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    4 out of 5 stars

Tough memoir, well told.

She writes about her life in simple, almost dry phrases. But the Overall effect is fascinating. It is also interesting to hear the reader, Stine Wintlev, pronounce the Danish names and places. Well worth a listen!

9 people found this helpful

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Masterpiece

Ditlevsen is an alchemist: using the simplest language, she weaves something as complex, profound, and deeply felt as anything I've ever read. The clarity of her perceptions, the mercilessness of her honesty, and the fleetness of her storytelling are all transmitted using language that's deceptively simple. The writing never calls attention to itself, the transparency of the style results in a crazy intimacy with this warts-and-all narrator. You will love her, be disgusted by her, root for her, worry about her, wish you'd known her, and feel sorry for those who did.

The performance of the audiobook is also a complete knockout. Stine Wintlev's delivery is perfectly matched to the style- elegant, clear, somewhat detached, and beautiful.

7 people found this helpful

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Danish Ferante?

I was as absorbed in this trilogy and the life of poet: author Ditlevsen as I was with Elena Ferante’s My Brilliant Friend. Except this is all true it seems so my responses of kinship, anger, disgust and concern for the writer as she lurches toward fame and fulfillment is also more real. Loved the reader, too!

3 people found this helpful

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I can't finish it!

Maybe I missed the point, I hate the protagonist and the plot equally the only thing worse is the writing itself. it is stilted and repetitive.

3 people found this helpful

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Wonderful, if not a little heartbreaking.

One word of warning: if you, like me, struggle with “mouth sounds” and saliva noises, the narration can at times be a little tough.

Beyond that, this was a wonderful, fascinating, and devastating journey to go on, and I highly it.

2 people found this helpful

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Tortured life of an artist

A good reminder of how drug addiction can happen to anyone and how easy it can be to enable an addict.

1 person found this helpful

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  • 07-12-22

I’m special and my life is fantastic. I am that book.

The writing is decent. The voice self-absorbed and precious (in a bad way). Only made worst by the performance- which may have not been the readers fault but whoever directed the narration. The reading is awful. It’s performed in a sing-song speech pattern as if she was waltzing through the room like Marry Poppings. If read with less exaggerated enunciation it may have lessen the annoying quality of the read. Seriously replace the director with me.

The dependency aspect was the most interesting part of the artist journey and that was only 15% of the book. There are much better books of the portrait of the artist as a young woman.

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Mesmerizing

I listened to this book on audio. From the very beginning, I simply couldn’t stop… The writing was beautiful, and then the story picked up and I was even more deeply caught. Suddenly it ended — I hadn’t been paying attention to the length of the recording the way one does with a physical book — and is there a sequel? I want to know what happens next in her life… I will need to research it.

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Not worth the hype

I had seen this title on a New York Time's list of best books with a glowing review. I was not impressed. Tove is an absolutely horrible person, and the story was long and drawn out. I should have returned this title, but I pushed through and finished it.

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A mesmerizing memoir

A truly interesting look into a woman and her life. As we've learned here in the United States, she's a national hero in Denmark. This text shows why. With an unflinching sense of honesty, she takes us through three phases of her life. While I wasn't enthralled by the narrator, the books themselves more than made up for it.