Date of Publication: 2003, Doubleday
Number of Pages: 360
Synopsis: Andrea Sachs, a small-town girl fresh out of college, lands the job that “a million girls would die for.” Hired as the assistant to Miranda Priestly, the high-profile, fabulously successful editor of Runway magazine, Andrea finds herself in an office that shouts Prada! Armani! Versace! at every turn, a world populated by impossibly thin, heart-wrenchingly stylish women and beautiful men clad in find-ribbed turtlenecks and tight leather pants that show off their lifelong dedication to the gym. With breathtaking ease, Miranda can turn each and every one of these hip sophisticates into a scared, whimpering child.
The Devil Wears Prada gives a rich and hilarious new meaning to plaints about “The Boss from Hell.” Narrated in Andrea’s smart, refreshingly disarming voice, it traces a deep, dark, devilish view of life at the top only hinted at in gossip columns and over Cosmopolitans at the trendiest cocktail parties. From sending the latest, not-yet-in-stores Harry Potter to Miranda’s children in Paris by private jet, to locating an unnamed antiques store where Miranda had at some point admired a vintage dresser, to serving lattes to Miranda at precisely the piping hot temperature she prefers, Andrea is sorely tested each and every day – and often late into the night – with orders barked over the phone. She puts up with it all by keeping her eyes on the prize: a recommendation from Miranda that will get Andrea a top job at any magazine of her choosing. As things escalate from the merely unacceptable to the downright outrageous, however, Andrea begins to realize that the job a million girls would die for may just kill her. And even if she survives, she has to decide whether or not it’s worth the price of her soul. ~Blurb from back cover
Review: This debut novel sat on the New York Times bestseller list for months, and was turned into an Academy Award-nominated film. I did the non-bookworm thing: I saw the movie first. When I finally picked up the book, I was both delighted and irritated. I was delighted that Andrea had a more complicated personal life in the book than in the movie. Her best friend and roommate, Lily, is a promiscuous, alcoholic graduate student and her boyfriend, Alex, is an idealistic elementary school teacher. She loses sight of both of them as her job gradually takes over her life. Even Emily, the senior assistant, shows signs of cracking under Miranda’s pressure. There are many, many instances of Miranda’s tyranny over her little empire, which guarantee that you’ll be simultaneously laughing and wincing at poor Andrea’s suffering.
If I had to choose one thing that bothered me, it would have to be the dialog. It was incredibly contrived and most of it wasn’t believable. The conversations sound like they happen in someone’s head, but when you put the words down on paper, it all sounds fake. Real people just don’t talk like this. I would try to imagine these people saying these things, and it didn’t work at all. It really takes away from the story, and it shows how untrained the author actually is. Much of it sounds like it came out of a high school creative writing class. At the same time, though, Miranda’s outrageous rants and requests (“Yes, there’s something wrong. Something very, very wrong. Why do I have to come back to my office to find this sitting on my desk?”) are perfect, which hints at some real-life experience of the author’s.
If you’re a fan of chick-lit, this book is great. It’s full of fashion and fabulousness, parties and Paris. Just don’t expect too much.