The Princess Diarist was not as hard to read, as I was afraid it was going to be, even after the death of Carrie Fisher. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but I thought this rumination on Princess Leia and how that character, and the filming of Star Wars, changed her life was interesting. The only other thing I’ve read by Carrie Fisher is an article she wrote lambasting the gold bikini, which I liked, but this collection of memories around Star Wars was all new to me. Despite being a huge Star Wars fan, I’m rather uninterested in the stories about filming it, I’m in it for the stories and not the nitty gritty about how the story happened if that makes sense. That distinction is probably why this book didn’t make me sob. I have always drawn a pretty good division between characters and the actors who play them, and so while Princess Leia is a beloved figure in my life, Carrie Fisher was just the actress who played her and I didn’t know much about that woman. After this memoir, I am a little sad that I didn’t get to know her better; well, as much as a fan can get to know an actress.
I listened to this in an audiobook, and for the most part I quite enjoyed it. I thought the middle portion, the actual excerpts from her old diaries and read by her daughter Billie Lourd, was a drag on the whole book though. Lourd reads her section with what I call ‘poetry reading voice’. It is that soft, almost monotonous, rhythmic voice that people use when they want to tell you that what they are reading is Important (with a capitol I). It was extremely common at the poetry readings I used to attend with my father, and I didn’t realize just how much it annoyed me until I had to sit through a whole section of it. The contrast between Lourd’s sections and her mother’s sections is night and day though. Fisher reads with a kind of manic energy, and it’s pretty easy to see who is the experienced actress in the family. I could only get through about 10 to 15 minutes at a time of Lourd’s portion of the book.
I enjoyed Fisher’s ruminations on what it was like to be Princess Leia. I enjoyed the thoughts she had about the character, as well as her self-depreciating humor. I winced in second hand embarrassment at some of the fan stories though. I could tell that she enjoyed her fans, but the most extreme kind of fan has always affected me in that way and so the stories made me cringe. I would say this was worth picking up for those who are casual fans of Fisher; obviously intense fans are going to read it whether they find anything new in it.