Book Review: Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

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‘It isn’t all sweetness and light sabres’

Carrie Fisher was born into the madness of Hollywood, the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher grew up watching her parents sing, dance and act. Is it any surprise that this bundle of joy grew up to be one of the best known actresses of her generation? At the tender age of nineteen Carrie was catapulted into stardom after the release of Star Wars A New Hope as Princess Leia became the heroine girls wanted to be and the beauty the boys wanted to date. In Carries memoir, written to accompany her stage show of the same name, she reminds us that underneath the glamour of it at she had to cope with her own demons; addiction, mental illness and the media.

Now, if you didn’t know already I LOVE Star Wars, I got into it last year after finally watching the original trilogy (after being put off by the prequels on TV) and now I’m obsessed. Finding out that Carrie had written a memoir (she’s actually written a second and had a third coming out later this year) meant I had to get hold of a copy, especially as I knew it spoke openly and honestly about her experiences with  mental illness as well. There’s many reasons why I adore Carrie Fisher and her humor and ability to be open about having Bipolar Disorder is just one of them, before this turns into a post gushing about how awesome Carrie Fisher is let’s get on with the review.

When I started reading Wishful Drinking, I knew barely anything about Carrie Fisher in fact I knew about 4 things. I knew she’d played Princess Leia, that she also had a mental illness, that she was hillarious and that she is in love with her dog Gary. I knew nothing about her addiction, that she was a fiction writer or that she had famous parents. Going into this mostly blind I was shocked and in awe of Carrie and her achievements. The fact that at 19 she was relatively unknown and went on to be such a huge star would mess with most peoples heads, couple that with the rather odd upbringing she had (including having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother) Carrie appears to have developed a thick skin and a brilliant sense of humor. I laughed and laughed.

The memoir has gotten a lot of negative reviews for being ‘too short’ or having a hectic structure. While I can see where other readers get this view I felt that this accurately portrayed what Carrie was saying, the narrative perfectly fit the voice. Also, I’ve now watched the show and seeing as this was a supplement for those who couldn’t see it personally I can understand its length. If you’d like to watch it as well as reading, there are some great clips on youtube to give you an idea of how she performed this on stage, I absolutely loved it and wished I could have seen it live.

I also praise this for Carrie’s honesty, it feels like there is nothing she hides from us. She’ll tell you about her absolute lowest points in life, about the addiction she faced and the love she has for her daughter, Billie. With that in mind Carrie is in no way self pitying, she laughs at the past, her family and the craziness that has been her life. She’ll remind you that sometimes she forgets things because the Electric Shock Therapy she has for Bipolar Disorder wipe out a good portion of her memory. She makes us remember not to take life too seriously.

I gave Wishful Drinking four stars ****. I really enjoyed this as a quick read and an insight into Carrie’s life before, during and after Star Wars. What I like most though, is Carrie’s humor and positivity. I know how awful life can get when you’re sick and how much more you appreciate life when you’re better and Carrie absolutely embodies that. I highly recommend Wishful Drinking for anyone who wants a quick and hilarious read.

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