Book review: The Princess’s job may affect the royal house

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Tove Andersson
Oslo, Norway

The Norwegian princess Märtha Louise is currently launching the book Stemmen eller støyen (The Voice or the Noise), but her controversial alternative school has received the most attention, as well as her contract with British medium Lisa Williams.

Princess Märtha Louise has a business relationship with this controversial British medium—who claims to have communicated with both Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe—creating seminars and drawing people to her so-called Angelschool.

“Märtha Louise may cause damage throughout the Norwegian royal family. The important thing is how Crown Prince Haakon and Mette-Marit maintain their role, but the princess does a lot for the royal house’s popularity overall,” says historian Lars Hovbakke Sørensen to Dagbladet. Sørensen is an expert on royalties in Danish media.

Stemmen eller støyen is based on Märtha Louise and her business partner Elisabeth Nordeng’s year as columnists for VG Helg, a weekend tabloid. The columns gave the two—who met at Holistic Academy—an opportunity to speak directly to readers, sharing their own experiences, faith, and doubts, according to the publisher Press forlag. The book is about finding themselves, daring to be themselves, and about the difficulty the princess has experienced from the press due to her background.

The book’s form resembles a blog with articulate introductions and beautiful illustrations by Hildegunn Solbø, but the content is unfortunately quite familiar. Mindfulness, self-compassion, finding your inner voice, and meditation are all words that describe the self-improvement trend that started with spiritual movements called New Age, influenced by Indian culture.

“Strong tears” on page 206 is a beautiful story from Elisabeth’s pilgrimage to Saniago de Compostel, a story that highlights the book’s weakness: that the large and small are mixed together. The struggle to find their own voices and cope with shyness and public criticism is mixed with the larger picture: women’s struggle to be heard in countries were they are hardly seen.

They’re right about how stressful it is to move, buy new houses, and wait in line at the grocery store; these are well-known problems in a modern society.

For example, a man with a crooked spine brushing the sidewalk in London reminds Märtha to pause in the early rush hours. Her thoughts go to a book by Michael Ende, about learning to do things step by step, not rushing. “Sure. My mornings are like everyone elses,” she writes.

Co-writer Elisabeth is similarly stressed by traffic jams. Her aim is to consider it a gift. “The key lies in the body’s presence,” she writes on page 88.

The authors explain that journalists have always ridiculed them. They were happy to get a chance to speak with their own voices. This book is about how they utilized the opportunity.

However, we, the readers expect more.

One of the chapters focuses on an interview on the talk-show Skavlan where the two shall meet Malala, this year’s Nobel Prize-winning young woman from Swat Valley, Pakistan.

They at least make the reader reflect over the fact that 17-year-old Malala has achieved what the two women are searching for; she already has a voice.

The book release has been covered by NRK so many times that some say the debate has been more about NRK than the book.

The two have previously published Meet your Guardian Angel, Angelic Secrets, and The Spiritual Password, an English title.

Born in Oslo, Tove studied anthropology, history of religion and ethics at UIO (University of Oslo). She worked in social services and wrote Jeg heter Navnløs (My name is nameless) in 2002. She’s worked as a freelance journalist since 2007, starting up with travel, music, and book reviews, while writing poetry and fiction as a hobby.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 30, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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