Libbie's Reviews > The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
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's review
May 27, 08

bookshelves: fiction
Recommended to Libbie by: My mom. Big surprise.
Recommended for: people who are easily amused and don't care about good writing.
Read in May, 2008

** spoiler alert ** Meh.

I actually listened to the audiobook version of The Devil Wears Prada on a recent road trip. I hope that counts as "reading" it.

Maybe "gossip fiction" (as the back of the CD case repeatedly called this book) just isn't my thing. I know that chick lit isn't my thing, but I was desperate for something other than static hiss or Christian preaching as I drove through the Oregon Cascades. Wherever the hangup occurred, I couldn't like The Devil Wears Prada in spite of my attempts to enjoy it.

The plot moved along rapidly enough, I suppose, although what little conflict was there was barely enough to be called a plot. Let's see: Andy feels ambitious; Andy is abused by her boss; Andy doesn't like it; Andy's friend and boyfriend start to resent her ambition; Andy tells her boss to fuck off. The end. I'm sorry; I missed the conflict here. Where is it, exactly? I suppose it was stuck somewhere in with the whole "deciding whether she should quit her job or not" thing, but that was going on throughout the whole interminable narrative and never really changed in terms of intensity. An unvarying conflict with two-dimensional characters all over the place is just not my idea of a good time.

I will say that the voice used was fairly well done. It felt like it was coming from the mouth of a 23-year-old, if a fairly ineloquent one. I found it somewhat hard to believe that Andy graduated from Brown with a degree in English and that she had aspirations to edit the New Yorker. She seemed fairly limited in her modes of expression. Still, she did seem young and "hip," and that worked well enough with the gossipy tone of the book.

The heavy-handed name-dropping was obnoxious - I can't really see Annie Liebovitz giving two shits what Cruella DeVille thinks of her; not enough to send her ridiculously expensive Christmas gifts, anyway - and some of the cultural references will date this book in a most severely crippling way in about six years. Plus, I get that Miranda Priestly is fabulously wealthy, but how many fashion magazine editors REALLY have THAT much money? I just found it to be a tad on the unrealistic side. Maybe I know too many editors to believe that they can own private jets and can fly to Paris on a whim for the express purpose of acting like a bitch. It didn't ring true, but maybe Miranda was a trust fund kid and invested wisely.

Other aspects of the book were hard to swallow but I was willing to suspend my disbelief in order to get through the experience. I find it exceptionally difficult to believe that a magazine editor who makes huge sums of money from her wildly successful rag would care AT ALL about whether her assistant was wearing Prada or Banana Republic, even IF she is absolutely obsessed with fashion. A woman who's turned a fashion magazine into the kind of success that allows her to demand that two copies of the new Harry Potter book be jetted to her hotel room in Paris the day before the book is released is going to be far more concerned with efficiency and performance from her employees than the label on their clothing. Again, maybe I just know too many business people to swallow the milieu Lauren Weisberger has conjured up out of her fashion-addled imagination. Said fashion editor keeping a staff and a huge closet full of spare high-end clothing specifically to make sure her staff looks right just didn't fly with me.

The characters in this book were flatter than a tortilla. Nobody changed at all throughout the course of the novel. Even Lily's drinking didn't appear to increase, even though Alex said her drinking was increasing. O RLY? Because from the first time we "meet" Lily she has a glass of the alky in hand and never puts it down once. Speaking of which, I suppose we as readers are supposed to sympathize with poor Lily, driven to alcoholism by the neglect of her eight-grade BFF, but instead I found myself laughing at the character. Lady, if you can't get over the fact that your bestest pal from EIGHTH GRADE is trying to build a successful career for herself and has more ambitions in life than sleeping with as many creepy men as she can lay her hands on, then you have bigger problems than alcoholism. The DWI-induced coma Lily lands in is the drippy, maudlin icing on the two-dimensional character cake. Boo.

Far more interesting than the day-to-day minutiae of Andy's job and struggles to receive her lunch breaks (hey, Andy - ever heard of OSHA?) is the obvious memory problems of her boss, "devil" Miranda Priestly. I thought there was a much more intriguing story buried among the lifeless characters and the pop-culture references. Why couldn't Miranda remember a damn thing, and how did a woman with an obvious case of early-onset Alzheimer's disease manage to be so successful at editing a major magazine? I kept expecting some explanation of Miranda's severe memory issues, but none ever came. I guess she was borderline demented because she's a bitch, not because she had some serious problem that would have added whole layers of interest to this book. Nope. She was just a bitch. That's all, folks.

This would be a one-star review but for the fact that there is one deft bit of writing in the entire novel. It struck me after I finished the last audio CD and gratefully managed to tune my crappy iPod radio-sync player into some band of static I could use for greater entertainment that Miranda Priestly is never described as wearing Prada. At least, not as far as I could recall. Andy, however, admits that she feels good about herself when she leaves her apartment decked out in Prada from head to heel. Thus implying, of course, that the titular "devil" is Andy and not Miranda Priestly at all. Alas for Weisberger, Andy never comes across as a true devil; just a young woman trying desperately to do what it takes to establish a good career in the publishing world.

All in all, I would not recommend this book to anybody. It may be that the film was more entertaining. I might watch it some day, but it will be a while before I can scrub the spectacle of the novel from my fevered brain.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Barbara "...Miranda Priestly is fabulously wealthy, but how many fashion magazine editors REALLY have THAT much money?"

The book, and Miranda Priestly, were based on Vogue's Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour; yes, she is really like that and yes, she's got a ton of money and more pull in this town than anyone you could imagine. Trust me, believe it.

Libbie Well, in that case Anna Wintour makes for lame fiction.

message 3: by Leorobin (new)

Leorobin hi

message 4: by Kate (new) - added it

Kate young blog--comment topic:do you play fashion game-
better than facebook's game

Stella I quite liked the book, but I love your review. I waited to see some explanation to miranda's character/behavior, too and I really wanted to know how she can eat all that greasy food and lots of it and remain slim. When does she sleep? Etc. i admit I skimmed the last 100 pages of the book in case that was explained somewhere.

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