The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher. 2016, Blue Rider Press 257 pages.
Many have mourned the recent death of iconic actress Carrie Fisher for a variety of reasons. An actress, author, and mental health advocate, she was admired and beloved by many. Though she had many talents, she will always be most well known for her role as Princess, and later General, Leia Organa in the Star Wars film franchise. In her memoir, The Princess Diarist, Fisher, with her trademark self-deprecating tone and wit, tells the story of how becoming Princess Leia changed her life forever, for better or worse.
Carrie Fisher’s rise to fame was not something she had planned as a child. Growing up the child of performers Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, the spotlight was not a place where she felt comfortable for most of her life. However, as a teenager, Fisher was cast opposite Warren Beatty in the film Shampoo. She auditioned for other films after this, including Days of Heaven and Grease, and eventually enrolled in drama school at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London at seventeen years old.
Much of The Princess Diarist is focused on the time Fisher spent shooting and promoting the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, and the way it has impacted her life since its release. Fisher discusses auditioning for George Lucas, how the iconic Princess Leia bun hairstyle originated, and, for the first time forty years after it occurred, she discusses her on set affair with co-star Harrison Ford. Fisher does not treat their romance as a sensational tabloid story, but as an event that happened a long time ago between friends. She includes excerpts from her journals she kept during their affair, which occurred when she was nineteen years old. Even though they were written when she was young, Fisher already demonstrates her quick wit and humor in phrases like, “I was sitting by myself the other night doing the usual things does when spending time alone. You know, making mountains out of molehills, hiking to the top of the mountains, having a Hostess Twinkie and then throwing myself off the mountain. Stuff like that.” The diary entries provide further insight into Fisher’s mind during that period of her life, and make the reader feel like they are part of the events as they transpire.
Fisher also discusses the unexpected popularity of the Star Wars franchise and her interactions with fans of the series. It is clear through these chapters that Fisher was not prepared for the level of fame she gained with Star Wars, and that while she struggled being in the spotlight, she is grateful for her fans.
Fisher’s tone throughout The Princess Diarist is one of candor. There is no pretension in her writing, and The Princess Diarist reads like a conversation between old friends. Anyone who has admired Fisher’s work through the years will enjoy reading her memoir. Through her words, Fisher shows what an incredible talent she was and how large a vacancy is left behind through her death.
Elizabeth Weislak works in the children’s department of the Mebane Public Library. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-563-6431.