Book Review: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

The Princess DiaristWhen Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first ‘Star Wars’ movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved – plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognised. Today, her fame as an author, actress and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, ‘The Princess Diarist’ is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time – and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty.

Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, ‘The Princess Diarist’ brims with the candour and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the stardom that few will ever experience.

I was insanely excited to read ‘The Princess Diarist’ when it was first released – Princess Leia was, and still is, an amazing icon for me, and I wanted to know more about the remarkable woman who portrayed her. Then Carrie Fisher passed away, and I couldn’t bring myself to read her words. Reading something so vibrant, when Carrie was so very, very gone, was still hard all these months later. I’m glad I did though, because ‘The Princess Diarist’ is hilarious and heartfelt, and Carrie Fisher lives on in those pages.

‘The Princess Diarist’ was heavily promoted as being Carrie Fisher’s diary entries during the filming of Star Wars: a New Hope, and I was expecting a lot of the memoir to consist of the diary itself. In reality, more than half of the book consists of Carrie Fisher’s recollections and reflections, as her older self looking back on those early years. I enjoyed this immensely, as Carrie Fisher developed a hilarious writing style that makes me want to devour her other work. She was also upfront about her ongoing struggles with addiction and mental health, and how her early success in Star Wars contributed to this. This honesty and openness about topics that remain relatively taboo is so needed right now.

While I loved the reflective nature of ‘The Princess Diarist’, I really could have done without the multiple page summary of events of the 60s that served as the introduction. A brief paragraph or so would have served the same purpose, without being tedious to read. A second issue I had is that Carrie Fisher’s diary entries don’t feel completely authentic . The entries consist of prose and poetry entries that primarily detail her emotions during her affair with Harrison Ford. The entries are incredibly well written, but they also smack of being highly edited before being published. Perhaps I’m just jealous that my own diary entries consist more of cramped rants and crappy poems, as opposed to the profound emotion of Carrie Fisher’s published entries.

 

I really enjoyed reading Carrie Fisher’s perspective on filming Star Wars, and her humour and sass just pour off the pages of this book. I’m so glad ‘The Princess Diarist’ was published when it was, as there’s an additional and wonderful piece of Carrie Fisher that will live on in the world now.

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