As the world continues to mourn the untimely death of Star Wars actress and writer Carrie Fisher, fans — myself included — have clamored to read the books she left behind. Fisher’s final memoir, The Princess Diarist recounts her affair with co-star Harrison Ford on the set of the first Star Wars film in 1976. But, more than a romantic tell-all, The Princess Diarist feels like Fisher’s goodbye.
I can already hear your skepticism crying that Fisher’s recent demise has cultivated a bias in any postmortem reading of her work, and that to call The Princess Diarist a goodbye memoir is to sound like all the jackasses who say that Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix, and Heath Ledger were somehow ready to go at the time. Trust me, I hear you.
But also trust me when I say that The Princess Diarist talks a lot about how the revelations it contains will be received after its author’s death. At one point, Fisher insists: “If anyone reads this when I have passed to the big bad beyond I shall be posthumorously embarrassed. I shall spend my entire afterlife blushing.” These tiny moments are among the book’s most poignant, because it’s difficult for Princess Leia’s fans to read Carrie Fisher’s words on her own passing after the fact.
Fisher’s death aside, I have a message for Star Wars fans who will come to The Princess Diarist expecting juicy gossip on how Harrison Ford is in bed or confirmation of their long-held suspicions that the actors who portrayed Han and Leia were really, truly, madly, deeply in love: You’re going to be disappointed. The Princess Diarist is not a kiss-and-tell book detailing Ford’s most secret measurements, nor is it the story of Fisher’s fling with the love of her life. As memoirs go, it’s rather tame in the sex department, and Fisher and Ford’s off-screen relationship — if you can call it that — never moves beyond sex.
In fact, the story Fisher’s diaries tell about Ford is downright cringey. It’s the same sort of thing we could all expect if we pulled out musings on romance from our 19-year-old selves. She’s a relatively inexperienced young woman, enthralled by a sexy older man who is — for all intents and purposes — utterly unobtainable. Ford is kind, but aloof; good to her, but reserved to the point of being unknowable.
The Princess Diarist is familiar, but it isn’t fanservice. For any Star Wars fan at a crossroads in her life, this is a must-read.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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Image credit: Lucasfilm