Book Review: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

the-princess-diaristA new book review today! This time I am taking on the latest (and last) book by Carrie Fisher, The Princess Diarist. A fact that still bums me out.

You can check out my other book reviews (both for WKAR’s Current State and this website) here.

If you would like to check out The Princess Diarist for yourself, you can find it on amazon.com here.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

I wish I could say that the new book The Princess Diarist is the one that Star Wars fans have been begging for. A real point-by-point behind the scenes story of the making of the original Star Wars trilogy from the perspective of one the members of the original trio. The force would be strong with such a book.

Star WarsI wish I could say that this was even a simple eye witness account of the creative process of creating an entertainment landmark. Watching George Lucas from the sidelines, seeing how the magic got done. An important book, a powerful book. A book that makes us see everything on the screen (and probably memorized) with new eyes.

Sadly, The Princess Diarist, the last book by Carrie Fisher is neither book. This is instead a book about becoming a phenomenal, dealing with it, dealing with it again (this time without drugs and alcohol), and controlling yourself from criticizing the fans in front of you (while taking all of their money). If you are hoping for insights around each of the films, including the latest two, forget it.

I, like many of Generation X, grew up with the Star Wars films. We counted down the days to Return of the Jedi, were disappointed by the prequels, and purchased numerous different copies of the films on VHS, DVD and blu ray (when all we wanted was what we saw on the big screen so long ago). I think I got up to the number six in my copies. Unlike many of the fans of the films, I accepted long ago that Carrie Fisher was not Princess Leia. She was the mom in The Burbs, the best friend in When Harry Met Sally and an author dealing with her own demons on the page. Yet, it’s still not always easy to separate Princess Leia from Carrie Fisher and if The Princes Diarist does anything, it pleads for the reader to do just that. She is begging for it on every page, literally.

The big scandalous thrill that hit the news cycle around this book is the affair she had with Harrison Ford during the making of the first film. For those that are aware of her book and one-woman show Wishful Drinking this is old news. This book gives no real insights into their relationship. You see how it started (over a birthday party for George Lucas), but when it comes to the daily relationship there is little here. She tries to get him to laugh, he smokes weed and is silent. Nothing surprising on either front.

Carrie Fisher decided during the middle of the novel to include her pages from her diary she kept during the filming. A “copy-paste” from a galaxy far, far away. Even then the reader is given really nothing, feeling like they are just reading the diary of a teenager in a questionable relationship and new feelings… which is exactly what it is.

You would imagine that a book about the making of the series would be easy. Break each of the five movies (that she will end up appearing in) into parts, rewatch the movies and just share her memories. Heck, she could have even dictated a running commentary while watching the movies, pressing pause on the player to share a thought when one comes up. I would have loved that book! Instead we get 50+ pages of how uncomfortable it is to talk to people inspired by her character and her performance in the movies.

After Carrie Fisher’s tragic and untimely death, I grabbed this book hoping to spend a little more time with her, grab some memories connecting her to the original scifi masterpieces. It was so very hard to give this book only three stars on Good Reads. And, yes, I admit it, if she was still around the grade might have even be less. It was hard to give such a light book even that. Most pages feel like filler, just helping her hit a page count she was aiming for. There is a great story here (from the affair to the making of each of the films), sadly Carrie didn’t feel like telling it.

Even though I am certain after reading this book that Carrie Fisher would have felt uncomfortable about me saying this- I loved Princess Leia. She was a strong character and fun to watch on the screen. She made me laugh and as a teenager I dreamed that she would call me a “Nerfherder.” And after this review I probably deserve it.

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4 responses

  1. I just read Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” (and as a Bipolar alcoholic, I can’t believe it took me this long to get to it)… Found myself laughing out loud, and will definitely check this one out too. 🙂

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