Fiction – paperback; Harper Collins; 400 pages; 2003.
If you have ever worked for an unreasonable boss or taken a job where you have had to compromise your values, then this book is likely to appeal.
I don’t normally “do” chick-lit but I raced through The Devil Wears Prada if only because the plight of the narrator — Andrea Sachs, who takes a job as an editorial assistant on a fashion magazine — resonated so strongly with me, because, I, too, have worked on a successful magazine, albeit not one quite as glamorous as the title portrayed here.
In this book Andrea, a recent college graduate, dreams of writing for the New Yorker. But she knows that hitting such heights requires some legwork and experience, so when she lands the job “that millions would die for” on a glossy fashion magazine in Manhattan she’s prepared to put in the hard graft. What she isn’t quite prepared for is that her boss, Miranda Priestly, is a high-flying control-freak, a kind of cross between Cruella De Vil and Hitler, that sets out to make her job — and her life — hell.
Along the way Andrea must accomplish all kinds of near-impossible tasks to perfection (or risk being fired) while juggling relationships with a long-term boyfriend, Alex, and her best friend, Lily, both of whom she begins to neglect — with dire consequences — as her working life takes its toll. Throw in a smattering of light romance and a lot of humour, some travel tales and an overload of sordid insights into the dual worlds of fashion and magazine publishing, and you can’t really go wrong.
As a debut novel, The Devil Wears Prada is a remarkably accomplished tale that treads a fine balance between all-out farce and Ugly Betty-type soap opera. That everything rings true says a lot for the author’s story-telling abilities. I particularly liked Andrea’s voice, which is sharp, sassy and intelligent — if not terribly wise.
While the plot is not particularly strong — it’s simply a year in the life of the narrator — and is riddled with holes, Weisberger knows how to keep the reader on the edge of her seat. For instance, Andrea does not actually meet her boss from hell until about a third of the way through the book, which builds up the tension to almost palpable proportions.
The narrator’s sense of moral outrage also helps propel the story along. As a reader you long to know if she will ever dish out as good as she gets… but if I told you, that would spoil things, wouldn’t it?
The Devil Wears Prada is a light, fun and entertaining read, perfect if you want to check your brain into neutral or stay in your pyjamas all day.