Since I can remember, Star Wars has been prevalent in my life. It was pretty much part of initiation into my family. I adored Princess Leia and her bravery, so when Carrie Fisher sadly passed late last year, I was devastated. One of the first things I did, other than have a movie marathon, was read The Princess Diarist, one of Carrie’s books of personal stories. I wouldn’t call it an autobiography, as it only covers a few incidents in her life while giving her perspective on some moments in time, but it is autobiographical in nature, and I looked forward to the chance to get to know her a little bit, in her own words. The cover describes it as “a sort-of memoir”, which is exactly right.
I was extremely excited when I set aside a day to read it. I was grasping for pieces of Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher in any way possible. However, by the time I finished, I was conflicted between my love for an actress and my feeling for the book.
The book is essentially a recount of stories from Carrie Fisher’s life, mainly focusing on her time filming Star Wars. I was ecstatic about learning more details about behind the scenes; that’s not what this book is. It felt like the entire book had been dictated in an unorganized, stream-of-consciousness style. I had trouble following thoughts and events occurring. Some of the stories dragged on for chapters trying to prove things that didn’t need to be proven, and it felt, overall, like a last effort of someone to set the record straight. It also seemed like she expected the reader to be familiar with the tabloid rumors of her time filming Star Wars, like she thought the world had been sitting around judging her this whole time. Maybe it’s just because I’m young that I wasn’t sure what she was referencing some of the time. I was surprised there wasn’t a little more background information considering how many Star Wars fans were not around during the first wave of Star Wars films.
Although the writing itself was not the greatest, I did get an insight into Carrie Fisher's life, which I greatly appreciated. Stories of her experience on set, interactions with others, and especially her struggle with body image made me glad for reading the book. Being around the same age she was when her adventure began, I was thrilled to learn that we had some things in common. I feel it was also really important that body image kept appearing in the book, as it showed that it isn’t something ‘famous people’ are shielded from and that everyone kind of struggles with body positivity at some point in their life.
At the same time, some of the anecdotes were really boring and didn’t seem to go anywhere. It almost felt like when you’re at a party and someone traps you in a corner telling you a story, and when you don’t laugh they just keep telling it and telling it thinking that once you understand how funny it is, you’ll laugh and you’ll like them. For example, she refers to signing autographs as “lap dances” because you’re selling yourself. That’s the whole joke, but it goes on for pages and pages and pages. It doesn’t get funnier, you just feel bad for her, which seems to be the last thing she wants.
In the end, would I reread this memoir? The answer, to my dismay, is no. It feels like the leftover stories that didn’t make the cut for another book. But I do not regret reading it. Although the writing is not fantastic, we, as an audience, were still given a window into parts of Carrie Fisher life, a choice that was entirely optional. Carrie Fisher is one of the most amazing actresses I have ever watched and Princess Leia has had a lifelong impact on me. She was absolutely brilliant and will be greatly missed and I hope she will rest in peace.