Book Review: The Princess Diarist
By Diane McCurdy
I have never been a Science Fiction fan. Nevertheless, I have seen several of the Star Wars films because they are beyond just a depiction of events that happened a long, long time ago is galaxy far away, they represent a cultural phenomenon.
About two weeks before the twin tragedies that took the lives of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, I purchased The Princess Diarist written by Carrie Fisher which, of course, is now selling like hotcakes on Amazon and topping many best-seller, non-fiction lists. I was curious. The book is sleight and basically a collection of tidbits of what happened during the production of that first film of what everyone thought was, “a cool, off the radar movie directed by a bearded guy from Modesto.”
The then 19-year-old Carrie had kept a diary of rambling prose and poetry which had been gathering dust and which the present 60 year old Carrie had recently resurrected. We learn that she was chosen to play Princess Leia having had only one other screen role, somehow with her side doughnut hairdo and bronze bikini she became a symbol of female empowerment. Thus began a love-hate relationship as Carrie Fisher would be forever, to the day of her recent death, thought of as Princess Leia.
Her book begins by framing the era, 1976. Having endured her father, Eddie Fisher, abandoning the family for Elizabeth Taylor and the second of her mother’s three disastrous marriages, Carrie was already a survivor. While filming in England, the focal point of the narrative is an affair between her and co-star, Harrison Ford, many years her senior and the married father of two. If the reader expects some salacious, heavy breathing details – forget it. What happened was very un-romantic. Saving Carrie from the clutches of some raucous crew members, Ford escorted her to her taxi while both were heavily intoxicated and he had his way with her in the backseat. Their affair continued for the three months shooting schedule. She was smitten. He was mostly stoned and taciturn. The second section deals with the diaries themselves. The prose is over-dramatic and repetitious, The poetry more palatable. The third part covers Carrie today and her ambiguity toward her fans and her fame. She references her many trips to rehab and her failed marriage to Paul Simon. She mentions her daughter, Billie Lourd, whose father left her for another man. Toward the end of her life, she was rarely seen without her beloved dog, Gary. Above all, her deprecating wit dominates. May the force be with her.