Title: The Devil Wears Prada
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Goodreads Synopsis: When Andrea first sets foot in the plush Manhattan offices of Runway, she knows nothing. She’s never heard of the world’s most fashionable magazine, or its feared and fawned-over editor, Miranda Priestly. But she’s going to be Miranda’s assistant, a job millions of girls would die for. A year later, she knows altogether too much: That it’s a sacking offence to wear anything lower than a three-inch heel to work. But that there’s always a fresh pair of Manolos for you in the accessories cupboard. That Miranda believes Hermes scarves are disposable, and you must keep a life-time supply on hand at all times. That eight stone is fat. That you can charge cars, manicures, anything at all to the Runway account, but you must never, ever, leave your desk, or let Miranda’s coffee get cold. And that at 3 a.m. on a Sunday, when your boyfriend’s dumping you because you’re always at work, and your best friend’s just been arrested, if Miranda phones, you jump. Most of all, Andrea knows that Miranda is a monster who makes Cruella de Vil look like a fluffy bunny. But also that this is her big break, and it’s going to be worth it in the end. Isn’t it?
The Devil Wears Prada (2006) is one of those films they play on TV all the time, and one I almost always watch when it is on. It’s really a fantastically entertaining film, and Anne Hathaway’s, Meryl Steep’s, Stanley Tucci’s, and Emily Blunt’s performances are top notch. So when I found the book on Amazon Kindle for $1.99, I couldn’t pass it up. Miranda Priestly would not approve of my bargain shopping, but I don’t work for her, so YOLO. Settle in for my review, it’s not like you have anything better to do at the moment.
I think most of you will know the story by now – Andrea Sachs, a recent college grad who neither knows nor cares anything about fashion, is thrown into a world where anything bigger than a size zero is frowned upon, carbs are the devil, and if you thought that top went with those shoes, you are seriously disturbed. Her boss, Miranda Priestly, head of Runway Magazine and dragon lady extraordinaire, is the most demanding and unreasonable person on the planet. The only reason Andrea puts up with it all, is because working for a year as Miranda’s assistant will open up many doors for her in the future. Only, she’s turning into a “clacker” herself, and her personal life is crashing down around her. After reading the book, I can only say that if you’ve seen the film and think you know the book, you are sadly mistaken. I’ll take “creative liberties” for 500, please.
In the film, we are introduced to our clear protagonist, Andrea “Andy” Sachs (Anne Hathaway) when she interviews for her first publishing job out of school. As her demanding job occupies more and more of her time, we become frustrated alongside her, as her friends and family refuse to see things from her point of view. We become enamored with the cold, Miranda Priestly, and the Runway way of life. When Andy’s job demands her soul, she gives it all up (in a professional way) and takes what she has learned to her next opportunity.
In the book, Andy ends up at a job interview for a magazine she doesn’t read, nor has ever heard of. She doesn’t do any research about the company before the interview, and doesn’t look to see who the key players are. “A million girls would die for this job” is a phrase repeated countless times throughout the novel, but Andy doesn’t appreciate what she has. She constantly complains about her vapid and fashion obsessed co-workers, but while that may be so, they have a much better work ethic than she does. Instead of being grateful for the experience and the contacts she is gaining, she chooses to complain about having to earn her dues.
While I felt for Andy when Miranda would come up with yet another vague task for her to complete, I couldn’t help but be annoyed with the way she acted. After almost a year of working, she chooses to blow up at Miranda and is fired on the spot. I felt this to be extremely unprofessional, and I couldn’t help but wonder how Andy’s job prospects would pan out after this. (This is fiction, so obviously she is just fine.) Miranda Priestly, while difficult, is an extremely influential person in the magazine industry. Did she really not think about what the consequences might be for her outburst?
From the moment Andy is hired at Runway, she begins to put her friends and family second behind her career. Her best friend and roommate is an alcoholic. When she begins failing her classes, sleeping with random guys, and losing time, Andy doesn’t talk to her about it or offer to help. When her boyfriend starts becoming increasingly distant, Andy doesn’t make more of an effort to keep him in her life. Instead, she seriously considers cheating on him. When Miranda suggests that Andy “reminds her of herself”, Andy takes it as a compliment and uses her words as an opportunity for career advancement. Even when the worst happens, Andy throws away the opportunity for redemption to preserve her career. Because this is fiction, she ends up rebuilding all the bridges she burned, but I couldn’t help wanting to shake her screaming “IT’S JUST A JOB!!!!”
One thing I wish the book had touched on was the double standard in modern culture for women in leadership positions having to act the same way as their male counterparts. While Miranda was (and is viewed as being) difficult, cold, condescending, etc; it’s important to realize how much she has accomplished. Her background is briefly touched on in the novel, but it is explained that she came from nothing and clawed her way to the top. She wouldn’t have gotten to where she is, garnered the respect she has, or proven her invaluable worth to the magazine and fashion world if she didn’t have talent or determination. This, while men are able to occupy leadership positions without the assumption that they are shrill, cold, or overly ambitious.
3.5, because while it was definitely worth the read, I prefer the film. Or maybe I just prefer Meryl Streep. (That woman could play a plastic bag blowing in the wind and still win an Oscar, IMO.)