The Princess Diarist

Book Review: The Princess DiaristTitle: The Princess Diarist

Author: Carrie Fisher

Summary: When Carrie Fisher 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 recognized.

Including excerpts from these 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. 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 type of stardom that few will ever experience.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Review: I’m not a Star Wars fan. Wait–that came out wrong. I enjoy the films, i go to see them at the cinema, i quote them on occasion. I don’t know what all the spaceships are called, i don’t watch the cartoon series, and i don’t play X-Wing (don’t even really know what it is). You know, i’m not a fan. But i enjoy Star Wars, and i like Carrie Fisher, and the idea of this book appealed to me. So, i bought it.

I actually read it as a read along with a friend when we discovered we’d each bought a copy. We were texting each other over the few days we were reading it, comparing notes and exchanging thoughts. It was a fun, interactive way to read the book and brought a lot to the experience.

Fisher is a great writer. I mean, she’s a great actor too, but i feel like she has the soul of a writer. Or maybe i just really connected with her voice and style so it struck a particular chord with me. Whatever, i think her writing’s great. It’s light and funny, but also astute and perceptive–often in the same breath. The diaries from when she was 19 are incredible; it’s hard to imagine a 19 year old writing such insightful, clever, and beautiful things. She’s so eloquent, and it makes this book an effortless read.

Despite her amazing writing, the book isn’t flawless. And i think a large part of its flaws lie in Fisher’s insecurities. She laughs and jokes about them, and about herself, frequently enough that it starts to wear. And ultimately it does nothing but shine a brighter light on them. She wears her humour and self-deprecation like armour, but it’s herself who’s inflicting a lot of the damage. It’s clear from what she writes about being a 19 year old thrown unceremoniously into the celebrity limelight (despite her familiarity with fame and her mother) and how since then she has simple been Princess Leia, that Star Wars has screwed her up a little bit.

Another thing that i thing deeply affected her was the less-than-romantic tryst with Harrison Ford. I’ll skip the details, but suffice it to say in my eyes Ford has no excuses here. He took advantage, plain and simple. Fisher’s diary entries are all about him, wanting him, knowing she can’t have him, and still wanting him anyway. There are some things she says at the end of the book that make me think, somehow, she actually still wanted him–was still punishing herself with that fact.

As much as i enjoyed her writing, for a book pegged as Fisher’s diaries while filming Star Wars, there really wasn’t enough Star Wars. Half the book is about “Carrison” (as she so nauseatingly calls it), the first few chapters about her early life and previous career… really, there is very little Star Wars in here. Despite that, i did enjoy the book. In future i would be tempted to read more of Fisher’s books–with the hope they are less insecurity-filled–but i won’t be rushing out to buy them.

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8 Responses to The Princess Diarist

  1. @lynnsbooks says:

    I did see this book and was curious about it – good review by the way. So sad, tragic in a way, the way she died so suddenly and then her mum died very shortly afterwards (i think within days).
    I guess she would have always been ‘Leia’ after the film was such a success although she did have some other roles – just never quite as huge. I didn’t realise there was a ‘thing’ between her and Harrison Ford though – interesting..
    Lynn 😀

    • Wendleberry says:

      There is a whole fascinating chapter on the fans and conventions and of being “Leia” for all these years. It’s worth the read if it’s something you’re interested in.

  2. Katie says:

    Apart from the fact that I am a ‘fan’, I nodded along in agreement while reading this review.

    It was heartbreaking to read of her obsession (and it was nothing else) with Harrison Ford and his utter power he held over her.

    I will be reading more of her books, but I won’t rush out and buy them full price. If I see them in the charity shop, I’ll buy them. She had an amazing voice, but I agree completely — the self-depreciation wore a bit thin by the end.

  3. sjhigbee says:

    This is an excellent review – hm, I hadn’t known about her and Harrison Ford – and you’re right, he’d no business taking such advantage. Shame on him… I was saddened to hear of her death as I sensed that she had finally found her feet and was having great fun and given what a hard she’d had, it seems unfair she didn’t have longer to enjoy the renewal of her career.

  4. Pingback: 2018 End of Year Book Survey | Marvel At Words

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