The Devil Wears Prada (novel)
|Country||US, UK, France|
|Published||October 6, 2003 (Broadway Books)|
|Media type||Print (Hardback and Paperback)|
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 nightmarish as she struggles to keep up with her boss's grueling schedule and demeaning demands. 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.
Andrea Sachs, a recent graduate of Brown University with a degree in English, moves to New York City with her best friend, Lily, a graduate student at Columbia. Andrea hopes to find a career in publishing and blankets the city with her résumé. She believes she'll be closer to her dream of working for The New Yorker if she can get a job in the magazine industry. She gets a surprise interview at the Elias-Clark Group and is hired as junior assistant for Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of the fashion magazine Runway. Although she knows little of the fashion world, everyone tells her that "a million girls would die for [her] job". If she manages to work for Miranda for a year, people tell her, she can have her choice of jobs within the magazine industry.
At a celebrity party, Andrea meets Christian Collinsworth, a charismatic Yale graduate who is considered one of the hot, new up-and-coming writers of their generation. They are attracted to each other, which complicates her relationship with her boyfriend, Alex.
Andrea's relationships become entangled because of her new job. Lily increasingly turns to alcohol and picks up dubious men to relieve the pressure 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 co-worker, Emily, gets mononucleosis and Andrea must travel to Paris with Miranda in her stead. Andrea agrees, although this means 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 wants 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 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 and learns that Lily is comatose after driving drunk and wrecking a car. Though her family and Alex pressure her to return home, she tells Miranda she will honor her commitment to Runway. Miranda is pleased, and says her future in magazine publishing is bright, but phones with another impossible demand at Christian Dior's Paris fashion show. Andrea decides 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 friends and family. Her romantic relationship with Alex is beyond repair, but they remain friends. Lily recovers and is lucky to receive only community service for her DUI charge.
In the last chapter Andrea learns her dispute 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. She works on short fiction and finances her unemployment with profits made from reselling the designer clothing she was provided for her Paris trip. Seventeen buys one of her stories. At the novel's end, she returns to the Elias-Clark building to discuss a position at one of the company's other magazines and sees Miranda's new junior assistant, who looks as harried and put-upon as she once did.
- Andrea "Andy" Sachs, a recent Brown University graduate hired as 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 treats 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. She is Andrea's roommate.
- Nigel, a very tall gay British man who serves as Runway's creative director. He often appears on television as a fashion consultant and is one of the few stars of the magazine Andrea knows before she works there. He is a loud speaker with an outrageous sense of style, and 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. He befriends Andrea, and jokes about "calling in fat" on days when he feels unattractive.
- Jeffy, who oversees Runway's famous "Closet." The Closet is stocked with clothing on loan from fashion designers for use in shoots, but is rarely returned and often "borrowed" by magazine staff. He is responsible for transforming Andrea's wardrobe so she can fit in among the fashionable hallways of 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 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 playfully makes Andrea or anyone else unfortunate enough to work as one of Miranda's personal assistants sing or 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. 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 their stiletto heel shoes make on the marble floors of the Elias-Clark building.
- Benjamin, referred to as Benji. He is Lily's ex-boyfriend, but they have stayed in touch despite their breakup. He was involved in the car accident with Lily.
Weisberger stated in publicity materials that Priestly's demands are partial fiction and a composite of actual experiences she and her friends had in their first jobs. Some reviewers state that Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, was the inspiration for Priestly.
Commercial and critical reception
Kate Betts, a former editor of Harper's Bazaar who also worked for Wintour at one point in her career, 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?" 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 either the magazine where Weisberger actually worked or the woman she allegedly modeled her main character on. The Times continued this practice when the film was released.
Critics who favored the book admitted it had problems, as any first novel might, but praised it as a "fun, frivolous read".
No Condé Nast Publications reviewed or otherwise mentioned The Devil Wears Prada.
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.
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.
The book's sequel, Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns, is set a decade after the events of the first novel. In it, Andy is the editor for a new bridal magazine. But as she plans her own wedding, she remains haunted by her experience with Miranda until the two meet again.
- 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.
- Wells, Juliette (2006). "Chapter 3: Mothers of Chick Lit? Women Writers, Readers and Literary History". In Ferriss, Suzanne & 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 ...
- "'The Devil Wears Prada' is getting a sequel!— Exclusive". Entertainment Weekly. May 31, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- "Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns Gets A Very Red Cover". Cinemablend.com. March 17, 2013. Retrieved August 23, 2014.
- "'The Devil Wears Prada'". Author Q&A. Random House. Retrieved July 4, 2009.
- Smith, Kyle (June 30, 2006). "Guy at the Movies". The New York Post. Retrieved May 26, 2009.
- Betts, Kate (April 13, 2003). "'The Devil Wears Prada': Anna Dearest". The New York Times Book Review. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
- Maslin, Janet (April 14, 2003). "Books of the Times: Elegant Magazine, Avalanche of Dirt". The New York Times.
- Colford, Paul (April 15, 2003). "Wintour of Discontent". Daily News (New York). Archived from the original on April 17, 2003.
- Scott, A.O. (June 30, 2006). "'The Devil Wears Prada': Review". The New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2014.
- Krauss, Jennifer (April 14, 2003). "It's Working Girl Meets Cruella de Ville". Newsday (New York). Archived from the original on April 23, 2003.
- Lee, Stephan (March 15, 2013). "See the Cover of 'Revenge Wears Prada', Sequel to 'Devil Wears Prada'—Exclusive". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
- 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.