Book Review: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

The Princess DiaristThe Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Release Date: November 22, 2016
My ratingg: 5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

When 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 recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford. 

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.  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 candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

The Princess Diarist focuses on Carrie Fisher’s time filming Star Wars: A New Hope. Specifically, it narrows in on her affair with Harrison Ford during filming. There is a little bit at the beginning about how she got her start in the entertainment business, including her role on Star Wars, but it shifts quickly to focus on her and Harrison’s relationship.

Carrie was only nineteen when she was cast as Princess Leia and very inexperienced in both sex and relationships. Harrison was in his mid-thirties with a wife and children. Their relationship only lasted three months. Carrie was in love with him but it seemed like she more of just a way to deal with the loneliness of shooting on location away from his family for him. Honestly, I thought he was kind of a jerk, although Carrie didn’t seem to, neither then or in retrospect.

I listened to the audio version of The Princess Diarist. Carrie’s daughter Billie narrates the excerpts of her diary. I think this was a smart choice because Carrie’s voice is gravely now, like someone who’s smoked a lot and had a hard-living lifestyle, as she did when she was younger and involved with drugs and whatnot. She did not sound like Princess Leia anymore! Billie’s voice sounds like the young person she is and was better able to portray the native of Carrie’s perspective at the time. The diary itself is stream of conscience punctuated with short, angsty love poems written about Harrison.

Carrie narrates the other parts of her book, which is told in a narrative format. This was also a good choice because Carrie’s parts of the book are pretty funny and no one is better to deliver her witty lines than her. She definitely looks back on her relationship with Harrison as a fond memory and doesn’t bare him any ill will. I couldn’t help wondering what both Harrison and Mary Marquardt – the woman he was married to at the time of Harrison and Carrie’s affair- think about the book. I couldn’t find an official response from either one of them.

This is not the book for you if you want to know more about Carrie’s life overall. It has a very narrow focus. She has another memoir called Wishful Drinking. I haven’t read it but from the synopsis on Amazon, it sounds like it covers her entire life.

I greatly enjoyed this book, although it was a little bittersweet listening to it after she passed away. She brought joy to so many people and was definitely one of a kind.

  • S.G. Wright

    I wonder if she planned to write more after this one. I like some of her humor such as in the book/movie Postcards from the Edge. But not sure she needed to reveal the affair with Harrison.