Review by Anna Spydell
December 14, 2019
At the close of 2019, three years will have passed since we lost Carrie Fisher. Planetarily (in more than one sense), we have yet to stop reeling from it. After her death, one friend referred to Fisher on social media as her “space mom,” and I thought how beautifully that encapsulated what she meant to so many of us: a daring, gutsy, wondrously flawed woman we had all grown up with.
Sheila Weller, who is no stranger to writing intricately about the complicated lives of women (she has previously written about Carly Simon, Diane Sawyer, Christiane Amanpour and Joni Mitchell, among others), neither neglects nor glosses over any part of Fisher’s life in Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge. To do so would fly in the face of everything Fisher held to be important. In life, Fisher was brutally honest about her weaknesses, her addictions, about mental illness, about relationships. That honesty was a gift—a handing-down of wisdom. As Weller illustrates so well in her biography, Fisher gave, and gave, and gave in this way, mentoring generations of people around the world just by living large with irrepressible honesty and wit.
Pulling from extensive research and interviews done with everyone from the neighborhood children Fisher grew up with to her extensive group of cherished friends, Weller knits these pieces together into an engrossing and meaningful look at the inner life of a woman who described herself as “a writer who acts.” The result is a project that is breathtaking in its size and scope—Fisher lived a lot, and that is felt in page after page.
But like Fisher’s life itself, A Life on the Edge runs deep. It is less a long book than a very full one. It’s moving, truthful and a fitting tribute to its subject and to her unflappable courage and transparency. Reading Weller’s portrait of Fisher, you will miss her, deeply.