Weller traces Fisher’s life from her Hollywood royalty roots to her untimely and shattering death after Christmas 2016. We follow Fisher’s acting career, her struggle with bipolar disorder, relationships, and startling leap―on the heels of a near-fatal drug overdose―from actress to highly praised, bestselling author.
... neither neglects nor glosses over any part of Fisher’s life ... 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.
This engrossing, gracefully written, occasionally hagiographic book doesn’t just repeat the motto, it illustrates it, recounting numerous tales about how Fisher, who struggled with mental illness and addiction, managed to find the funny in it all — and share that with audiences, both as an actress and a writer ... reads as definitive, drawing on myriad interviews, media analysis, close readings of Fisher’s writing and at least one chat with a Star Wars groupie ... While illuminating how Fisher’s personal trauma catalyzed her wit, Weller shows that the life of this Tinseltown scion touched on major issues of our day ... [Fisher] hobnobbed with so many boldface names that Weller’s book sometimes reads like a parody of a TMZ post ... Weller’s biography seems to still shiver with the pain so many people expressed upon learning of Fisher’s death ... That pain may point not only to love of Star Wars but to the way Fisher’s story affirms our (sometimes) suppressed misgivings about our culture’s deference to fame and commercial entertainment. The emotion also echoes the poignant evidence laid out in this book, bearing witness to Fisher’s strength, compassion, talent and ability to alchemize pain into art.
... a thoughtful and fast-paced biography ... Few people could truly understand Fisher’s bizarre upbringing—and certainly very few of them are biographers. But Weller, a Vanity Fair contributor who grew up in Fisher’s neighborhood as the daughter of a movie-magazine writer and the niece of the owner of the buzzy Hollywood restaurant Ciro’s, is exactly the right showbiz insider-outsider to shepherd Carrie Fisher’s story to the masses ... Weller’s book is full of wicked, exuberant details...the author is much more concerned with Fisher’s private antics in the service of her friends than her public displays in service of her fame ... Weller does an excellent job of placing Fisher’s life in context, showing that while she may have shifted the culture (and certainly, when she stepped into that terribly uncomfortable gold bikini, she indelibly changed fandom and what it meant to be a mega-star), the culture also shifted her ... Weller interviewed hundreds of people, but the book does not feel overstuffed. Instead, it reads like a great, extra-long magazine profile, full of scuttlebutt and glamour and insight. In a way, the biography’s bouncy tone is a tribute to Fisher’s memory; she knew how to laugh, even when circumstances were dire. She would want her life story to go down like good chocolate, rich and sweet. But she would have also wanted a bitter edge to it, and that’s here too: Weller doesn’t gloss over Fisher’s struggles, heartbreaks, indulgences, or petty squabbles. She shows us a woman who, in her decades-long battles with insecurity, depression, and addiction, often ended up hurting others as well as herself.