The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

If you’ve ever read a memoir by Carrie Fisher, and especially if you’ve ever listened to her narrations of those memoirs in audiobook form, then you already have some idea of what to expect.  You know that she has an acerbic wit, you know that she’s honest and often without filters, and you know that she has earned the kind of enlightenment about life that can only be learned the hard way.  Her memoirs oscillate between laugh out loud funny and heartbreaking.

The Princess Diarist is more of this.  The book is essentially three parts.  The first part is a lengthy preamble where Fisher explains why she wrote this book, how it was that she came to be in show business, how she ended up in Star Wars, and why after so many decades she opted to break the silence about her affair with co-star Harrison Ford.  I’m not certain why, but for some reason, I feel like I’ve actually heard this story before.  Whatever the case, it’s one thing to know something like this.  It’s another to hear it from the actress herself, from the perspective of 40 years later and from her insecure, 19 year old self.

Part two of this book is taken from those old diaries she kept while filming Star Wars.  By themselves, some of what’s here would seem vague or even written in code.  But with the context provided by the first part of the book, the story behind the story is unlocked.  It’s easy to see how she ended up with Paul Simon for a while.  Much of this part is beautifully written lyrical poetry, the kind of thing that belongs in the best tragic songs.  She had a gift for this sort of thing.

The third and final part is where she offers her perspectives of things as they are now, 40 years on.  And while she waxes philosophically about her affair with Ford, the bulk of this section focuses more on the rise of the Star Wars phenomenon, her interactions with fandom at conventions, and some rather insightful thoughts about the infamous gold bikini, Jabba the Hutt, and her wax doppelganger at Madame Tussauds.

wax-leia-carrie-and-gary

The thing that stands out most for me on this is how heartfelt this is.  There’s a wisdom here underneath the laughter and regret that really comes across thanks to a narration that… well, I hesitate to call it a performance because it feels less like she’s reading her book and more like she’s simply telling you her openly candid — yet respectful — version of what’s presented in the book.  And by that, I mean that in the telling, she’s quite animated about it as only she can be.

For the diaries themselves in the second portion of this, the narration is provided by her daughter, Billie Lourd, in a less animated and more introspective voice.

Between the two voices and the perspectives over time, the end result is so very human.  The further it goes, the better it gets.  By the end of it, it’s quintessential Carrie Fisher.

5 stars

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2 thoughts on “The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

  1. I thought there might be more responses to this. Kind of sad by that, but nonetheless…

    This really was a great new chapter to her ever-growing memoir collection. I’ve often said on Facebook, whenever an article or Audible ad came up, that I’d never laughed so hard, or cried so much, listening to her stories.

    As we discussed before you wrote this, the journal entries of hers could have sparked one hell of a collaboration between her and Simon. In some cases, I would say that I’m glad it didn’t. On the other hand, the music on that album could have spoken to an age of the women’s movement that showed even the toughest individuals were still fragile. Something a lot of people refuse to see. Though you may hate the reference to it, and I know you’re not fond of the music and/or lyrics, she could have written Jagged Little pill a good decade or better before Alanis Morrisette ever got there (I’ll explain that as best I can if necessary), and with Simon to help flesh it out would have really brought something haunting, daunting, and certainly inspired to life. It certainly would have further outed some of the demons in her soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No need to explain the reference to me. I get it, and I’m inclined to agree with you. Such an album might have saved her from years of later torture, bit we’ll never know for certain. I’m just glad she’s able to move forward now.

      Like

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