Eva Gabrielsson, the partner of the late Stieg Larsson who lived with him for 32 years, has written her own biography about her forever love Stieg. The biography, titled There Are Things I Want You to Know about Stieg Larsson and Me in the US, and Stieg and Me: Memories of a Life with Stieg Larsson in UK (original Swedish title Millennium, Stieg och jag – Millennium, Stieg and I), translated by Linda Coverdale and with contributions from Marie-Francoise Colombani, is, of course, an emotional tribute to the man she met as an 18 year old, who became her soul mate, and whom she obviously loved deeply. However, it is more than “just” a biography; it is also a somewhat defensive invective against those who denied her what she considers to be rightfully hers – the inheritance of Stieg Larsson’s estate.
Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – has been a spectacular success all over the world, actually one of the most amazing success stories in recent years in the literary world. The movies have done well too, and now a remake of the first movie is on its way from Hollywood. Needless to say, many people have made a fortune on the deceased Stieg Larsson. But his partner Eva Gabrielsson has not.
In the eyes of many people she deserved to inherit Stieg Larsson’s estate. Morally speaking, that would have been right. But even though Sweden recognizes partnerships, the legal protection of partners in such relations is significantly weaker than the protection of husbands and wives in marriages. Swedish Law does not recognize common-law marriage. This is strange and sad, and – given that Sweden has an image as a liberal society and an advanced welfare state; a model for the world in some respects – also in many ways surprising. But that is how it is. So Eva Gabrielsson did not inherit Stieg Larsson’s estate. His father and brother did.
And Eva Gabrielsson knew the law. . But clearly she had expected to be treated differently by her “in-law”family; to be treated decently. Instead they kept it all to themselves. So Eva Gabrielsson is a disappointed and angry woman. And it shows. As she says about the trilogy:
“It was from our lives and our 32 years side by side that the books were formed,” she writes. “They’re the fruit of Stieg’s experience, but also of mine. Of our combats, our engagements, our travels, our passions, our fears … . That’s why I can’t say exactly what, in Millennium, came from Stieg, and what came from me.”
Also, Eva strongly feels that Stieg Larsson’s name is being exploited and dislikes the “commercialization” of him and his works. She feels that if she had been given control over his works, that would not have happened.
It is an interesting biography for fans of Stieg Larsson. However, viewed as a biography it has clear weaknesses. The author was perhaps too close to the subject, she has lots of viewpoints that she wants to communicate, is obviously very emotional, and so on. So although she knows a great deal about Stieg Larsson and has lots and lots to share, it’s not really a good biography in my opinion. It’s partly a biography, partly a battle cry. Also, the quality of the writing is very mixed and the text could clearly have benefited from more editing. But the tale is interesting – about a spectacular publishing success and the sad tale of the problems of one of the people who should have benefited from it.
That said, the biography contains lots of interesting information, is very, very warm and compassionate when discussing the relationship, and contains interesting snippets of information about the process of writing the Millennium trilogy, the time following Stieg Larsson’s death, and other interesting things such as the “fourth book”. I enjoyed reading the book, I do not hesitate to recommend About Stieg Larsson and Me to people interested in learning more about the fabulous Stieg Larsson.