The Devil Wears Prada (novel)

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The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada cover.jpg
Author Lauren Weisberger
Cover artist Evan Gaffney (design); Nick Dewar (illustration)
Country USA, U.K, France
Language English
Genre Chick lit
Published October 6, 2003 (Broadway Books)
Media type Print (Hardback and Paperback)
Pages 360
ISBN 0-7679-1476-7
OCLC 55053886

The Devil Wears Prada (2003) is a best-selling novel by Lauren Weisberger about a young woman who is hired as a personal assistant to a powerful fashion magazine editor, a job that becomes hellish as she struggles to keep up with her boss's grueling schedule and demeaning requests. It spent six months on the New York Times bestseller list and became the basis for the 2006 film of the same name, starring Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Emily Blunt. The novel is considered by many to be an example of the "chick lit" genre.[1][2]

On May 31, 2012, it was announced by Entertainment Weekly that Lauren Weisberger is working on a sequel to the book, titled Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns. The book was published on June 4, 2013.[3][4]

Plot summary[edit]

Andrea Sachs, a recent graduate of Brown University with a degree in English moves to New York City hoping to find a job in publishing. She travels with her best-friend Lily, a graduate student at Columbia, and blankets the city with her résumé, hoping for a foot in the door of the magazine industry to further her dream of working for The New Yorker. She gets a surprise interview at the Elias-Clark Group and is hired as the junior assistant of Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of the fashion magazine "Runway". Although she knows little of the fashion world, she is told repeatedly that "a million girls would die for [her] job". Andrea is told that if she manages to work for Miranda for a year, she can have her pick of jobs within the magazine industry.

At a celebrity party Andrea meets Christian Collinsworth, a charismatic Yale graduate who has been identified as the hot, up-and-coming writer of their generation. They become attracted to each other, complicating her relationship with her boyfriend, Alex.

Andrea's relationships become complicated because of her new job. Lily increasingly turns to alcohol and picking up dubious men to relieve the pressures of graduate school. Alex, struggling with his own demanding job as an inner-city schoolteacher, grows frustrated with Andrea's long hours and constant stress. Andrea's relationship with her family also suffers. Matters finally come to a head when her coworker Emily gets mononucleosis and Andrea must travel to Paris with Miranda in her stead. Andrea agrees, although this will mean canceling a long-awaited trip with Alex to a Brown University reunion at the Biltmore Providence Hotel.

In Paris, she has a surprise encounter with Christian. Later that night, Miranda finally lets down her guard and asks Andrea what she has learned, and where she would like to work afterwards. She promises to place phone calls to people she knows at The New Yorker on Andrea's behalf once her year is up and suggests that she take on some small writing assignments at Runway.

Back at the hotel, Andrea gets urgent calls from Alex and her parents asking her to call them. She does so and learns that Lily is comatose after driving drunk and wrecking a car. Though Andrea is pressured by her family and Alex to return home, she tells Miranda she will honor her commitment to Runway. Miranda is pleased, and tells her that her future in magazine publishing is bright. At the Paris fashion show for Christian Dior, however, Miranda phones her with yet another impossible demand. Andrea finally realizes that her family and friends are more important than her job, and realizes to her horror that she is becoming more and more like Miranda. She refuses to comply with Miranda's latest outrageous request, and when Miranda scolds her publicly, Andrea replies, "Fuck you, Miranda. Fuck you". She is fired on the spot, and returns home to reconnect with her friends and family. Her romantic relationship with Alex is beyond repair, but they remain friends. Lily recovers and fares well in court for her DUI charge, receiving only community service.

In the last chapter Andrea learns that her tiff with Miranda made her a minor celebrity when the incident made 'Page Six'. Afraid she has been blacklisted from publishing for good, she moves back with her parents and works on short fiction, financing her unemployment with the profits from reselling the designer clothing she had been provided with for her trip. Seventeen buys one of her stories. At the novel's end, she is returning to the Elias-Clark building to discuss a position at one of the company's other magazines. She sees a girl who she realizes is in fact, Miranda's new junior assistant, who looks as harried and put-upon as she once did.

Characters[edit]

  • Andrea "Andy" Sachs, a recent Brown University graduate who is hired as a junior personal assistant to a powerful and tyrannical fashion magazine editor.
  • Miranda Priestly, the British-born (as Miriam Princhek) editor-in-chief of Runway, an influential fashion magazine published by the Elias-Clark company. She is known for wearing a white Hermès scarf somewhere on her person every day and treating her subordinates in a manner that borders on emotional and psychological abuse.
  • Emily Charlton, Miranda's former junior assistant now her senior assistant. She and Andrea have a conflicted relationship.
  • Alex Fineman, Andrea's boyfriend, who teaches at an elementary school in the South Bronx through Teach for America.
  • Lily Goodwin, a free-spirited graduate student in Russian literature at Columbia with curly black hair, who rooms with Andrea
  • Nigel, a very tall British gay man who in addition to serving as Runway's creative director, frequently appears on television as a fashion consultant and is thus one of the few stars of the magazine Andrea knows prior to working there. He always speaks loudly. He has an outrageous sense of style and is the only person who can get away with critiquing Miranda's personal wardrobe choices.
  • James, another gay man at Runway who works at the beauty department who befriends Andrea. He jokes about "calling in fat" on days when he feels unattractive.
  • Jeffy, who oversees Runway's famous "Closet," stocked with all sorts of clothing nominally on loan from the designers for use in shoots, but rarely returned and often "borrowed" by the magazine's staff. He is responsible for transforming Andrea's wardrobe so she can fit in in the fashionable hallways of the Runway offices.
  • Hunter Tomlinson, a prominent New York tax attorney who is Miranda's current husband (she is divorced from the father of her two daughters, a well-known British rock star). As nice to Andrea and Emily as his wife is cruel, he is referred to by them and other close associates of Miranda's as "B-DAD" behind his back, for Blind Deaf and Dumb—the only way they could imagine anyone being able to live with her.
  • Eduardo, a security guard at the Elias-Clark building, who often playfully makes Andrea or anyone else unfortunate enough to work as one of Miranda's personal assistants sing or otherwise put on some sort of act before he lets them enter the building.
  • Christian Collinsworth, a handsome young writer whom Andrea meets at a party, where they develop a mutual attraction.
  • Caroline and Cassidy, the twin daughters Miranda dotes on.
  • Cara, the girls' nanny, who saves Andrea's skin more than once but is eventually fired by Miranda after she gives the twins a timeout in their bedroom for a bad attitude.
  • Jill, Andrea's older sister, who is married and lives in Houston, where she has begun to affect a Southern accent, much to Andrea's displeasure.
  • The Clackers, the magazine's many female editorial staffers, mainly Allison (former senior assistant, now beauty editor), Lucia (fashion department), Jocelyn (editorial), and Stef (accessories). Andrea gives them their nickname for the sound made by the stiletto heels they wear as they walk up and down the marble floors of the Elias-Clark building.
  • Benjamin, referred to as Benji. He is Lily's ex-boyfriend, but it seems that he and Lily has stayed in touch even though they had broken up. He is mentioned in the book only briefly, but he was involved in the car accident with Lily.

Conception[edit]

In publicity materials Weisberger states that Priestly's demands are partially fictional and partially a composite of actual experiences she and her friends had in their first jobs.[5] Some reviewers state that Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, was the inspiration for Priestly.[6]

Commercial and critical reception[edit]

Kate Betts, a former editor of Harper's Bazaar who also worked for Wintour at one point, spared no barb in the Times Book Review, stressing the main character's ingratitude at the unique opportunity of working at Vogue: "[I]f Andrea doesn't ever realize why she should care about Miranda Priestly, why should we care about Andrea, or prize the text for anything more than the cheap frisson of the context?"[7] Janet Maslin, in the daily paper, joined in: "a mean-spirited Gotcha! of a book, one that offers little indication that the author could interestingly sustain a gossip-free narrative ..."

Maslin avoided naming both the magazine where Weisberger actually worked and the woman she allegedly modeled her main character on.[8] The Times continued this practice when the film was released [9]). Betts, a former Condé Nast editor, was hardly an impartial reviewer (In Weisberger's second novel, Everyone Worth Knowing, two characters are speculating on the identity of a popular anonymous online gossip columnist. One candidate is "that former fashion editor who goes around writing mean book reviews").

Critics who favored the book admitted it had problems, as any first novel might, but praised it as a "fun, frivolous read".[10]

No Condé Nast Publications reviewed or otherwise mentioned The Devil Wears Prada.

Film adaptation[edit]

Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) and Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway): pre-release still photograph from the film The Devil Wears Prada; this also is the novel's redesigned cover.

The film version was released on June 30, 2006 by 20th Century Fox. It was produced by Wendy Finerman (Forrest Gump), freely adapted for the screen by Aline Brosh McKenna and directed by David Frankel. Anne Hathaway played Andrea, Meryl Streep earned critical praise, a win for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actress nomination as Miranda, and Emily Blunt played Emily.

Production took place during fall 2005, on location in New York and Paris. Weisberger herself made a very brief non-speaking cameo appearance as the twins' nanny.

It was very successful, taking in over $300 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film for both lead actresses up to that date. In September, Weisberger and Frankel jointly accepted the first-ever Quill Variety Blockbuster Book to Film Award.

Sequel[edit]

As the publication date for the sequel drew near, details of its plot were reported. The story is set almost a decade after the events of the first novel. Andy owns the hot new bridal magazine known as "The Plunge" with her former nemesis turned best friend, Emily. She is the editor and Emily the PR. At the same time she is planning her own wedding, to Max, who comes from one of the most influential families in Manhattan, but remains haunted by her experience with Miranda, whom she eventually encounters again.[11]

One fan of the original reacted with disappointment to this. At MSN.com, Kate Erbland called the story "disconcerting" since Andy had apparently turned her back on the world of magazine publishing to concentrate on writing fiction at the end of The Devil Wears Prada. "[R]eaders who have warm and fuzzy memories of indefatigable Andy might not be so inclined to pick it up," she warned. " So Andy got back into a side of publishing she didn't like so much, is still afraid of Miranda, and will likely have some relationship issues thanks to her work? Nice maturation there."[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Memmott, Carol (June 21, 2006). "Chick lit, for better or worse, is here to stay". USA Today. Retrieved May 5, 2014. "Industry observers and booksellers say a glut of pedestrian chick lit has new fans returning to proven, now-classic novels such as Nanny Diaries (2002), Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes (2004) and The Devil Wears Prada." 
  2. ^ Wells, Juliette (2006). "3: Mothers of Chick Lit? Women Writers, Readers and Literary History". In Ferriss, Suzanne and Young, Malloy. Chick Lit: The New Woman's Fiction. Routledge. p. 54. ISBN 9780415975025. Retrieved May 5, 2014. "Heroines' professional identities and workday experiences are certainly important to the texture of chick-lit novels, and sometimes central to their plot: Weisberger's The Devil Wears Prada, for instance, is built around the young heroine's relationship with her fashion magazine boss ..." 
  3. ^ "'The Devil Wears Prada' is getting a sequel! -- EXCLUSIVE". EW.com. May 31, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns Gets A Very Red Cover". Cinemablend.com. 2013-03-17. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  5. ^ "Author Q&A The Devil Wears Prada." Random House. Retrieved on July 4, 2009.
  6. ^ Smith, Kyle; June 30, 2006; Guy at the movies The New York Post; retrieved May 26, 2009
  7. ^ Betts, Kate; April 13, 2003; "'The Devil Wears Prada':Anna Dearest"; The New York Times Book Review; retrieved February 7, 2007.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ By A. O. Scott (2006-06-30). "The Devil Wears Prada - Review - Movies - NYTimes.com". Movies2.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  10. ^ Krauss, Jennifer, "It's Working Girl Meets Cruella de Ville", Newsday, New York, April 14, 2003 (archived 2003)
  11. ^ Lee, Stephan (March 15, 2013). "See the cover of 'Revenge Wears Prada', sequel to 'Devil Wears Prada'—Exclusive". EW.com. Retrieved March 20, 2013. 
  12. ^ Erbland, Kate (March 19, 2013). "Fan of the ending of 'Devil Wears Prada'? You might not be wild about its new sequel". Retrieved March 20, 2013. 

External links[edit]