The Heartbreak of the Princess

I’m only 191 pages through “The Princess Diarist” – a book that has, since it’s publication last month, become a somewhat epitaph to it’s own author – and I must say it’s heartbreaking.

Before buying the book I’d read up a lot about it, as I always do to make sure I’m not wasting my time, and from my understanding I thought it was merely a publication of Carrie Fisher’s diaries that she kept during the filming of the first “Star Wars” film. This was intriguing but it wasn’t an unique idea – I have read Katharine Hepburn’s “The Making of the African Queen (or how I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and almost lost my mind)” which was a publicized recollection of her time filming “The African Queen“- I’d found it hugely entertaining and it gave me a new outlook on the movie. Nonetheless I held off from buying “The Princess Diarist” for some reason. Perhaps it was because I had seen Carrie Fisher doing the marketing rounds with Ellen and Graham Norton where they revealed the book’s major plot twist, the USP you could say – the Harrison Ford Affair.

I seem to have something at the back of my mind that told me it was common knowledge that Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford were doing the dirty while making the films, and yet from the way the internet reacted it seemed everyone was shocked and that this was brand new information! I was not shocked. It certainly wasn’t going to be my primary reason for buying the book, I didn’t need to know all the juicy details or the cut of Mr. Ford’s jib. I wasn’t interested in that and instead I merely wanted to read it because I had read all of Carrie Fisher’s other work.

But when it was announced so shockingly two days ago that Carrie had passed away, I felt completely compelled to buy her book. I put on my scarf and gloves and ran to the nearest book shop and managed to grab a copy. The girl behind the counter looked at me for a while before deciding to say “I imagine we’ll sell out of these pretty soon”, and I agreed and told her I had read most of her writing.

And she is a brilliant writer. “Wishful Drinking” was my favourite – her original memoir detailing her childhood and the history of her mother’s marriages. I found myself laughing out loud and scribbled several notes of hilarious lines from the book.

It’s common knowledge that “Postcard’s From the Edge” was a semi-autobiographical book and the links and similarities between her characters and Carrie Fisher’s own relationship with her mother are strong. She draws a lot from her own life, and seems to enjoy sending herself up. In her other novel “Surrender the Pink” she writes about a woman who falls for all the unsuitable men and is obsessed with her ex-husband. This mirrors the fact Fisher herself fell for an unsuitable man in the form of second husband Bryan Lourd, who revealed he was gay after being together for three years. However I couldn’t match up the point of her being obsessed with an ex-husband.

It’s all become clear now as I sit with a bookmark in page 191 of “The Princess Diarist” – as it is obvious Carrie was still madly devoted to Harrison Ford. The way she discusses him in the present time, as well as her blatant admission that she wishes to get back together with him “and getting back together with someone you were never truly with is, to say the least, complicated” [page 188] are all heartbreaking insights into her thought process as a 19 year old up-and-comer falling for her older co-star.

The diary part of the book only takes up 69 pages, and each page is either a poem about unrequited love or an essay on how pointless her yearning is – as well as the occasional page on how pointless she herself is. I have a feeling, seeing as I’ve read both of her previous memoirs and knowing her writing style, that she intended this to be a comical, cringe-worthy, self-deprecating look back at an embarrassing time for her – when she was still discovering who she was. But the fact she has passed away now makes this a more poignant and heart-wrenching tale. There seems to be a huge love for Harrison beneath everything, and yet it’s totally unrequited and her writing conveys a heartbreak at the realization that nothing will ever happen – and now more than ever it will never happen.