With Carrie Fisher succumbing to a heart attack on December 27th, we have lost the woman who played Princess Leia, but we have also lost an accomplished and talented writer. I had finished reviewing her latest and what would be her last book, The Princess Diarist, two weeks before she had died. I found it to be insightful for her reflection on life as Princess Leia, and for her honesty about the affair she and Harrison Ford had during the filming of the first Star Wars movie in 1977.
Since her passing, fans have sought out her books causing publishers to reprint more editions. I thoroughly enjoyed The Princess Diarist and will seek out more of her work. Below is my original review of her last book:
When I learned that Carrie Fisher had released a new book called The Princess Diarist, I didn’t pay much attention to it. I thought it was another work of fiction, for which she is well known. Then I heard that in the book Fisher admits to an affair with co-star Harrison Ford, and I really wasn’t that interested in the book. It seemed like it would be a tabloid tell all that I had no interest in reading.
Did I really need to hear about the messy details of an affair from forty years ago? My god has Princess Leia sought revenge on Han Solo by embarrassing him with this story for money? Was I really going to read a tell all? Well, I did read it, and I liked it.
What you may assume would be the opportunity to get revenge against her co-star, is actually a love story about a 19-year-old actress who had an affair with an older co-star. Fisher does everything in her power to portray Ford as a decent guy, who treated her well throughout their relationship. Ford was married at the time of their relationship, but that marriage ended soon after Star Wars wrapped filming. Fisher doesn’t believe it ended because of the affair. The affair happened because the marriage was ending, is how she portrays it.
This is a reflective piece about life and not a gossipy tabloid seller. If you have read any other Carrie Fisher books, and I have, then her writing style matches up in The Princess Diarist. Having ‘discovered’ her lost diaries from the 1970’s Fisher shares what she is experiencing at this time of filming the first Star Wars and how her relationship with Ford began. She never told anyone what was happening, so she used writing as an avenue to communicate.
From page one she seems reluctant to divulge details of the relationship. Her first person conversational tone with the reader is Fisher’s way of willing herself to tell the story. At many points throughout the story she digresses with side stories, but when she finally does confront and share the relationship she had, it is done with care and class. I’m sure Ford would have liked for this story to not come out. But as Fisher points out if she didn’t tell the story her way, it would still come out, and in a very unflattering way.
There is more in The Princess Diarist then just a woman reflecting on a relationship she once had. The reader gets a snapshot of her life at the beginning of what would become an all-consuming and dominating Star Wars franchise. The fame that came with the success of the movie was intense and Fisher wasn’t sure how to handle it.
Being the daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds did not keep Carrie Fisher from being in the spotlight, but Star Wars transformed her from being the child of fame to a character known around the world.
Fisher is blunt in her writing. The Princess Diarist is not an expose but a story of a young girl who loved a man, and still does in a way. She respects Ford in her writing, and avoids providing details about the romance that would only ruin the book, and sully her reputation.
Sure, Carrie Fisher is discussing something that Harrison Ford probably does not want to talk about, but she does so in a respectful way. Star Wars fans will want to read this book for her reflection back to the time when no one knew how successful Han, Luke and Leia would be, or if there would be a sequel let alone five more.
What is great about the book is that Fisher uses the second half to focus on the intense relationship she had with being Princess Leia. We learn about her audition for the role, what it was like to arrive on set hours before her co-stars to get that infamous hairstyle ready for filming, and the after effect of being one of the most famous women in the world.
For the last 40 years, Fisher reflects on the pain of fame, loving, hating, and accepting that she is Leia Organa, someone who is admired by people around the world. The price of such fame is the demand of fans, and Fisher has shown grace with the all demanding people who want to know everything Star Wars related.
If you know a Star Wars fan, and you need a gift this Christmas, buy The Princess Diarist. It’s funny, thoughtful, truthful according to Ms. Fisher, and a different perspective to the Star Wars world.