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.
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.