Should You Read Carrie Fisher’s ‘The Princess Diarist’? (Book Review)

 

The Princess Diarist_book cover

Simple answer:

If you love Star Wars—maybe.

If you don’t—probably not.

I bought The Princess Diarist within the month after Ms. Fisher passed away. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was a kid, when my dad introduced my sister and me to the original trilogy, and I almost fell off my parents’ king-sized waterbed when Darth Vader revealed, “Luke, I am your father.”

HOW COULD THAT BE?

As a forever fan of the original trilogy, and especially of Princess Leia, then saddened over the death of Ms. Fisher, I was expecting much more from The Princess Diarist.

Perhaps the sudden death of such a Hollywood icon made the book into more than it was via exaggerated hype. Or perhaps everyone was foaming at the mouth for juicy tidbits on the ever-so-naughty love affair between Ms. Fisher and Harrison Ford that was exposed in the book.

But, I don’t know, much of the book just felt … hollow. The whipped cream on top of a flavorful scoop of ice-cream. I wanted more analysis (maybe self-analysis?), more emotion. I wanted to feel something reading her story.

Not to say I didn’t enjoy aspects of it.

For example, in the beginning, Ms. Fisher talked about how she never wanted to get into show business because of the way her grandmother treated her mom. I loved this peek into her upbringing and the possible narcissism that surrounded and affected her later in life (I would have loved more of this).

I also enjoyed reading snippets of Ms. Fisher’s diary entries from when she was 19 years old and filming the first Star Wars. Today, we know Ms. Fisher was bipolar, and I could detect the increasing manias, followed by the devastating depressive states, in her words. I found that fascinating.

I did enjoy learning about her affair with Harrison Ford. The affair was not what you’d expect, and it made me a little sad, in fact.

As a Star Wars fan, the tidbits on the making of the film were fun to read, and her insights into fans’ interactions with her (and how that affected her) were eye-opening. I cracked a smile sometimes.

Otherwise, I was ready to finish the book about halfway through.

I kept hoping for more, a climactic epiphany or ah ha! moment from Ms. Fisher, but I felt like that peak never arrived. Instead, I felt like much of the book was jibbery jabbery filler.

Even so, I can’t say I hated the book. I enjoyed it, but it probably won’t stick around in my memory for long.

STARS: 3/5

BOOK: The Princess Diarist

AUTHOR: Carrie Fisher

PUBLISHER: Blue Rider Press

AMAZON LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Diarist-Carrie-Fisher/dp/0399173595/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1531785644&sr=8-1

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BOOK REVIEW! ‘Call Me Zelda’ by Erika Robuck

Every so often, you’ll actually find me reviewing a hot, new book on this blog for your reading delight. Like today.

Call Me Zelda,” by Erika Robuck, published on May 7 this year. And I actually won an advanced copy through a Goodreads giveaway. I was so stoked, I might as well have just met Jesus.

OK, kidding, kidding.

But in all reality, I was excited to read Call Me Zelda, because it’s about Zelda Fitzgerald. And I have a serious fascination with the Fitzgeralds (who else is dying to see “Gatsby?”).

Just a heads up, though: Call Me Zelda is historical fiction … and this was my first experience reading the genre.

Here’s what I thought of Call Me Zelda. 

STARS: 3 out of 5

Call Me ZeldaErika is a great writer. I genuinely enjoyed her very human portrayal of the famous writer and his muse. Her prose was fluent, sometimes poetic, and encompassing of the time period for which she wrote: the 1930s.

However, I felt like the plot line and character interactions fell flat. And thus, the story tended to drag.

Here’s the scoop: rather than concentrating on the famous party days of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Call Me Zelda focuses on their later years, when Zelda was committed to a Baltimore psychiatric hospital in 1932. The narrator is a fictional character, a psychiatric nurse named Anna Howard, who tended to Zelda while also fighting her own demons from the past.

The result is that we get a much more human, emotional look into the complicated and sometimes chaotic nature of the Fitzgeralds’ relationship. We see their tenderness, and we understand how they destroyed each other. This was the part I enjoyed most about Call Me Zelda.

Unfortunately, I was not a huge fan of the nurse, Anna. And since she was the narrator, this took away from the story for me.

I think Erika could have done much more with Anna to add spice and conflict to the plot. I appreciated Anna’s good, caring nature, but I felt like she was a bit too perfect. And thus—even for a Goody two-shoes like me—she wasn’t real enough. The drama of the story wasn’t intense enough.  And it sometimes bored me.

Would I recommend Call Me Zelda? It depends.

If you love literature and have a fascination with past figures such as Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds … then yes! I think you will either enjoy or genuinely appreciate Call Me Zelda. Even if I sometimes found the story slow, I still appreciated the new life that Erika breathed into these two literary icons. And I wanted to know what happened at the end.

But if you prefer more contemporary work, action, or drama, then I’d recommend passing on this one. Instead, save it for a friend like Gil, the nostalgic screenwriter played by Owen Wilson in Woody Allen’s movie, “Midnight in Paris.”

Find Call Me Zelda on Amazon.