Just as short note before you go on reading. I tried to write this review without too many details – but there may still be some spoilers. So if you want to experience the feeling of getting the book and reading it yourself… stop reading here (and come back when you’ve read it).
I got “Kärleken till livet” on Sunday, directly from the book fair (thank you Paula!), and couldn’t wait to start reading it. But I would still have to wait for some hours… travelling and getting home first! The first thing I did when I got it in my hands was to look at the pictures, the design, the outside. And comment the first impressions with dear friends. The book looks very classy and nice. Once you open the book you see pictures of leather jackets, what? you may wonder. Well, Marie loves her leather jackets, she has a huge collection, and part of it has a special place in the book.
Then I looked at the pictures in the book. There are three sections with pictures in it, with short comments about them. Some are funny, nice, some are shocking, painful.
A special one for me, that I spotted inmediately, was the one of Marie and Efva Attling. Marie mentions Efva in the book a couple of times, like that they have the tradition to meet for a Christmas lunch, which they have kept for 30 years. It made me remember the 4-hour long interview/talk I had with Efva back in 2002. She explained many things about Marie and their friendship and also that they could talk for hours non-stop…
You also see Marie when she was small, her parents, siblings, Roxette, Micke, her children and pictures of the worst times of her illness. Another special picture is the list of names of the prayer chain that Marie Davis from Australia organised back when Marie got sick. Many fans added their name to the prayer chain and the list of names was sent to Marie, who put it in a frame and mentions that it means a lot to her. In the book she mentions that she keeps other presents she has received from fans and that fans are very important to her.
I started to read the book at the CPH airport but soon I realised I needed to be alone to read it, so I decided I would start in the evening when I get home. Be aware, the book is a page turner, so make sure you have the time to go on reading, or you don’t mind going to work very tired the next day. I read the book on Sunday evening, Monday morning, Monday evening and finished Tuesday morning. I couldn’t put it down, even though some parts were hard to take. But there are many nice touching ones too. Don’t forget to have some tissues around…
The book is written by Helena von Zweigbergk, who I think has done a great job write down Marie’s words. Helena explained last weekend on the book fair in Gothenburg about the process. She would meet Marie, go back home and write down what they had been talking about and get back to Marie, read the text to Marie and get her feedback. Sometimes Marie would remember new things, or want things written differently or changed.
And it feels at times as if you would be sitting in Marie’s kitchen having a coffee with her and talking about life, memories, anecdotes. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry, you are shocked, you feel love, it’s a roller coaster of feelings. There are many parts where I could relate to and probably you will too, either because we have lived part of her stories “from the other side”, our side, or because it’s about things in life one has experienced or has had to deal with in a way or another. From meeting the big love to family matters to feeling good or bad about oneself.
The book is not written in chronological order but starts with Marie telling about September 11, 2002, the day Marie fell on the floor and had to be taken urgently to the hospital. Probably many of you will remember that day. For me it’s one of those days I will never forget. I had just moved to Austria and I didn’t have a job, I remember checking some online newspapers and the article on Expressen and Aftonbladet about Marie. We were all shocked. I remember the emails on the mailing list, the comments on TDR, emails and chats with friends, quickly set up a get-well wishes page (more than 1000 messages were later printed out and sent to her). That day we just knew that Marie had had an injury. Some days later we got the fatal news about the tumour. And the rest we know. Or we thought we knew. We have heard from Per, the book about Roxette, Marie herself in articles and interviews about those years, but the book gives some more insight about all those years, the treatment and long-term side effects of the operations and treatment. It is touching to read (tissues!). But in a way it is optimistic, with a feeling of hope, never give up. Marie wants to share her experience and with that help other people in same or similar situations. But also wants us to know that she is feeling fine now and is enjoying life and every day.
Helena has followed Marie on tour a couple of times, both her solo tour that started in Helsingborg on February 19, 2014 and Roxette’s 30th Anniversary tour. Helena writes about her impressions of seeing Marie on stage, giving it all and being the queen of the whole place. There are also comments from Per, Dea, Christoffer and other band members about Marie. And, of course, also from Marie Dimberg, Marie’s manager and friend. One thing that touches me is that even though I don’t know Marie, my impression of pure feeling, big heart, strength, energy, fighting spirit, that charisma that one gets from her smiles, her looks, her words, gestures is also mentioned and described by those talking about Marie in the book. It’s something that I noticed before when interviewing Chris or Dea, for example, or talking with friends. Now after reading the book, we have talked again about this and we felt the same. For me this only has one explanation, and it’s that Marie is just who she is, herself. And that she is a very special person.
Marie also remembers her childhood, growing up in a family that had to count every cent, how she loved to sing already as a kid (she was singing all the time and she still does), that she could not keep still for a second, her love to music. She also mentions that she has always had a special connection with nature and animals, she loves flowers, her tree in the garden, birds. She goes on telling about moving to Halmstad, Strul, MaMas Barn, then to Stockholm, starting her solo career and Roxette. Like I said, there is no real order in the book, so stories are nicely brought to the reader connecting things Marie tells of the present and remembering the past.
Roxette is very special to Marie. She is very proud of what she and Per have achieved, and it was also Roxette that helped her back. As Helena mentions, “Dangerous” was the first song Marie hummed after the 3rd operation and suffering aphasia. We have also heard many times before, and Marie says this in the book too. Touring and being back with Roxette is the best therapy she could get. Marie also mentions her special relation with Per and the many great things they have done together.
There are also some interesting bits of information in the book. Like the fact that Marie and her family have a cat, Sessan. I didn’t know that and being a cat person myself (got two of them!) it just brought a big smile on my face. Helena was also at Marie’s home when Per, Christoffer and Clarence went to Marie’s to record two new songs for Roxette’s upcoming album, “Some Other Summer” and “It just happens”. An up-tempo and a ballad. And the book comes with a list of songs that mean a lot to Marie and her comments about these songs. The playlist can be found on Spotify!
And, of course, Micke, her husband, and her children have a huge place in the book. Micke and Marie tell about how they met in Australia and that they had engaged just a couple of days after having met. Marie also thanks Micke a couple of times for having been by her side all this time. For the good and the bad. She also mentions the small things in life that make her happy.
And actually these are the parts that touched me the most of all. These parts and how Marie – through a book (!) and her words, transported to us by Helena – spreads this energy and strength that to me, makes her so special. The success story, the keeping stubborn and fighting to do what she loves, sing and enjoy life. There are sad, shocking parts in the book, but always with this feeling of hope. It’s all about her love, love to/from her family, friends, music, love to live. Kärleken till livet.
I know I need to read it once again, or twice. There are many things to take in and reflect about one’s life too. It’s a very special and powerful book that I hope will be picked up with publishers outside of Sweden and be translated to at least the major languages. It’s not just a book about a pop star and the life on tour, but about life, about falling down and standing up again, the important things in life.
Aaand the book left me wanting for more! I want to read more of the anecdotes, stories, insight about life. So maybe what Marie said on the VI interview about writing another book wouldn’t be such a bad idea! 🙂
The book is available in hardcover (ISBN 9164204639) and audio book (ISBN 9164222787).
You can order the book here: