Review: ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ by Laura Weisberger

This is one of those (very rare!) instances where I’d take the film over the book any day: this book was a bit too shrill and, in places, incongruous with what I expected to grip me. I couldn’t warm to Andy; a girl who wanted it all, understandable fresh out of the mad land of university (or college I guess!), but at the expense of absolutely everything else in her life. I could come to terms with her subtle sabotaging of her relationship with Alex, and an inability to go home through sheer business (we’ve all been there). What I couldn’t cope with was the two dimensional state of Lily’s alcoholism; it seemed like it was thrown in every now and then to remind Andy of the bigger picture, and was quite promptly swept back under the rug when Andy had returned to sanity. It didn’t do justice to the struggle Andy should have gone through, or the trauma Lily should have. Ironically, Miranda was probably near-reality for many magazine employees, yet there was something unbelievable about her. I think for us mere mortals it’s difficult to imagine such a tyrant, or anyone having respect for someone so utterly despicable in their every action. I think Weisberger was wonderful in varying the complaints: nothing was every the same, which added that vital variety to Miranda which made her become a dictator, rather than a caricature of one. I think my favourite thing was the name changes; it showed how manipulative and derogatory this character was. Likewise, Emily was a good frame for this; her ‘Runway’ paranoid turn-arounds complimented the build up of power and importance around Miranda, and demonstrated just why these girls subjected themselves to ritual humiliation and torture. They truly believed in the power of this woman to the realms of the impossible, such as her hearing their every thought and whisper. Whilst I could understand those two characters, I absolutely could not stand Christian. Who in this world is so presumptive as to leap down the throat of any passing assistant without so much as a come hither look?! And then you’ve got poor confused Andy who just lets herself be pushed around by this chauvinistic man-boy…I think my already waning sympathy with her dissipated at that point – yes, she may be paid to be pushed around by Miranda, but to complain incessantly about it and then let it happen everywhere else in her life when she does have a modicum of control just shows her to be weak willed. I also couldn’t fathom Emily and Andy’s apparent ‘rivalry’. They didn’t seem to hate, despise or even dislike one another very often, and when conflicts did occur it felt gratuitous as if to prove a point rather than to develop their situation. Most of the time, they seemed to be playing for the same goal, with sympathetic looks and agreements (before the paranoid turnaround) occurring frequently. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to read this through to its conclusion, but I think I’ve been ruined by the subtlety of the film and, in particular, Meryl Streep’s soft yet dangerous performance as Miranda. It was difficult to fully immerse myself in a world where people seemed to be without humanity or self-possession – perhaps the novel is supposed to make us realise how our own lives are so far beyond this for the better.

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