On Carrie Fisher’s “The Princess Diarist”

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

This review appears on paperbackparis.com.

Dear Star Wars fans: This one is for you.

It’s really strange writing a review for a memoir written by a person who died earlier today. For a few days, Carrie Fisher’s voice–her humor–filtered through my head, and it was more than welcome. It’s hard to overstate how much I related to her 19-year-old self.

I have to be clear about this, though: I’m not one of the Star Wars fans for whom this book would have been a real delight. Those films–though I do recognize them as iconic–did little to capture my attention when I was a child, and I haven’t really bothered with them since.

I only decided to pick up the The Princess Diarist after seeing Fisher’s appearance on the Graham Norton Show a few weeks ago. Something about the way she discussed the book must have piqued my interest. I found it fascinating that she had forgotten keeping journals during her time filming the first Star Wars installment.

And, because I’m a perpetually unobservant person, I always assumed the affair between Fisher and Harrison Ford was a matter of public knowledge. I guess if Leia and Han were together in the film, there was something going on off-screen, right? Apparently, yes. I’m certain most people will pick up this book for what they will see as a titillating tell-all about their affair.

I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but it isn’t that. It might change the way you view their interactions in the film, but she does not write about it for the sake of giving people something to talk about. She was 19, and what happened happened.

What I like most about this book is how much Fisher let things remain as they happened. She did not glorify the past as a golden era before Star Wars became the phenomenon that it did. Her account of the affair with Ford is almost scientific, though not without trademark sense of wit and a little bit of heartbreak.

Fisher tells us she tried to act like an adult, but her naivete, confusion, and insecurity are palpable on those pages that contain transcriptions of her diary. Some of what she writes reads exactly like some of the things I’ve written in the past, and it makes the reader take notice of her quiet intelligence. Even though she was beautiful and talented and independent, she couldn’t see herself that way until she had aged into a period of maturity (or nostalgia) when she could finally look back at herself with something resembling approval.

The beginning and end of the book were a bit rocky. I found her writing difficult to follow at times, and some of her jokes fell on a confused brain. I think, perhaps, the book would have meant more to me had I possessed a better knowledge of Fisher’s performance of Princess Leia, but this books has made me reconsider those films and how they came to be and what they mean to people.

Now that Fisher has passed, the world will commence with its standard period of mourning, which usually lasts a few days. We’ll talk about how 2016 has been the worst year in recent memory and how it has taken the best among us–the ones who had the most to offer.

Star Wars fans will surely never let her memory fade, but I hope they remember she wasn’t just Princess Leia Organa.

She was Carrie Fisher. She was 19 once. She loved, she cried, she smoked, she drank, she made art.

And she let the world love her.

One thought on “On Carrie Fisher’s “The Princess Diarist”

  1. I wanted to read this before Carrie passed away and now I want to read it more. I will say this though, I haven’t ever seen her as Leia. I never watched the original three movies. My mother wasn’t interested in them that she made aware to me, and what friends I did have like more recent films. I am currently working on watching the series with my husband though. It was something we started even before she passed (we can only watch a movie here and there) and will be so weird to watch 4, 5, 6 now that she has passed. It will be…sad.
    I look forward to reading her book!
    Great review!


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