By Carrie Fisher
Rating: 5/5 Stairs
When I listened to Cary Elwes narrate As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Princess Bride last Novemeber, I loved it. The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies ever. He talked about the movie making process, life on the set, and what it was like to work with all of the different actors. It was like a love letter to every Princess Bride fan.
My first thought when I was done listening to it was, I wonder if Carrie Fisher has written anything about filming Star Wars? And if so, did she narrate the book? I did a quick search and to my surprise and delight, realized The Princess Diarist was scheduled to be released in a matter of days. What timing. I should probably mention that Star Wars (now titled Episode IV: A New Hope) is indeed my absolute, number one, most favorite movie ever. And Princess Leia is now and will forever be my princess.
I was planning to pick up The Princess Diarist after Christmas. I didn’t have time to read it before the holidays, and I thought maybe someone in my family might see it and think it was something I needed for Christimas. (Of course, they didn’t, so I bought it for myself right after.) I put the audio book on hold and figured with my number in the queue it would come up sometime in January. I didn’t want to just read Carrie Fisher’s book. I wanted to hear it in her own words and style.
Then the unthinkable happened. Carrie Fisher had a heart attack right before Christmas. And then she passed away a few days later. Our princess. My princess.
A few weeks ago, it was with a heavy heart that I listened to Ms. Fisher narrate The Princess Diarist.
She wrote the book after discovering her long-lost journals that she kept while filming Star Wars. I thought the journals would be similar to Mr. Elwes recollections of his experience—a running memory of stories from the set. An insider view on the making of one of the most iconic movies in film history. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, they are the musings of a 19-year-old girl who has fallen for an older, married man.
The book is set up in three unofficial parts. In the beginning, Ms. Fisher writes about events leading up to and the filming of Star Wars. The middle is her journal entries (I believe excerpts, and not the journals in their entirety), narrated by her daughter Billie Lourd. The remainder of the book focuses on life (and Leia) after filming.
Overall, Ms. Fisher’s book is funny, insightful, and at times heartbreaking. Sometimes it’s all three at once.
The hairstyle that was chosen would impact how everyone—every filmgoing human—would envision me for the rest of my life. (And probably even beyond—it’s hard to imagine any TV obituary not using a photo of that cute little round-faced girl with goofy buns on either side of her inexperienced head.)
The diary entries themselves are beautiful. Some are short little rhymes, and others full length poems. She writes stories and little bits of dialogue. The entries are funny and sad, and she constantly looks inward at herself. They definitely show that early on Ms. Fisher had a gift for writing and expressing herself.
As for the book itself (the parts before and after the journal entries), The Princess Diarist is simply Carrie Fisher. It’s honest and humorous. And at times a little wandering. Ms. Fisher tells it like it is, with no holds barred, particularly when talking about herself.
Listening to the audio book and hearing her tell her story was wonderful. The Princess Diarist is not all about the diaries and what went on behind the scenes, that’s just the first half of the book. In the second half, she muses about her relationship with Princess Leia—the highs and the lows that being Leia has brought her. I especially enjoyed hearing her tales of meeting fans at autograph signing events.
I highly recommend this book to any fan of Carrie Fisher’s writing, or fans of Princess Leia. If you’re looking for a true behind the scenes glimpse into the actual filming of Star Wars, this is not the book for you. (Try The Making of Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler instead.)
RIP Carrie Fisher. The Force will be with you. Always.