252 of 286 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2003
There is an enormous amount of buzz about this book because the author used to work at Vouge. Most of the PR implies that this is a roman a clef about those days. So far the reviews that I've seen in a least two major fashion magazines haven't been kind but that can be chalked up to fashionistas being annoyed with someone who mocked their world.
Does the book live up to the hype? Yes and no.
It's an amusing book. The descriptions of downtown life in NYC, the side characters and the horrible antics of mean Miranda Priestly are fun but the heroine, Andrea is such a stuck up little snob that it's difficult to care about her. Margaret Mitchell was able to take a character who was an absolute monster and make millions love her. Lauren Weisberger doesn't have that kind of ability.
What's really annoying is that the book has a choppy feel. Andrea lurches from one disaster to another with no transition in between. The plot has a formula that is an old as Greek mythology. The scenes with the best friend character, Lilly and the boyfriend, Alex won't surprise anyone. The climax is straight out of an old Edgar Wallace plotwheel. The ending was a sappy, predictable let down.
The bottom line is this: if you love fashion and gossip The Devil Wears Prada will make you smile. If you want a terrific book, this won't be the one you're looking for.
164 of 190 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2005
Summary of "The Devil Wears Prada"
- badly dressed, tacky young woman introduces herself as the "average" five
foot eleven inch, 120 pound woman who miraculously lands an undeserved
job as a personal assistant at a fashion magazine, immediately making every
other woman reading her story roll their eyes
- said young woman complains endlessly about her miserable life of wearing
designer clothes, attending gala society parties, the inhumane rule of not
being able to smoke or make personal telephone calls during business hours,
and her boss's crass insistence that she do her job without copping an
- said young woman somehow manages to retain her job despite looking down
on all of her colleagues and willfully sabotaging company spending records
- young woman fails to look human because she reacts unrealistically to her
own problems, and those of her cardboard cutout plot-point friends
- young woman somehow attracts a world famous, handsome author despite
her failure to appear attractive to her merely locally famous elementary
school teacher boyfriend.
- young woman finally tells off boss
- young woman somehow lands job at another magazine as a writer, despite
having never demonstrated any talent to her audience
- everything comes up roses for young woman
- and then, nobody cared
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2006
I loved this book! No, it's not terribly substantial and, yes, it is somewhat mean-spirited, but if even 25% of the things described in this book took place during Lauren Weisenberger's employ by Anna Wintour, I'd say that whatever Ms. Weisenberger wants to dish out, Ms. Wintour should take and be glad it's not more. Besides, does anyone think this book is meant to be taken seriously? Yes, there were times when I wanted to smack Andrea in the head and say "Get a life and a real job!" but not so much that it interfered with my enjoyment of the book. I found myself humorously horrified at the extent to which the Miranda Priestly character reigned with terror over her subordinates as well as open-mouth astonished at the number of people who took her abuse as "part of the job." If these were real people, I'd recommend therapy...and fast.
That said, I've just finished the unauthorized biography of Wintour, "Front Row" by Jerry Oppenheimer, and it appears that much of what is set forth in "The Devil Wears Prada" is closer to the truth than one might want to believe. There is outright confirmation of Wintour's attitude, demeanor, and treatment of others that runs directly parallel to the actions of Miranda Priestly in "The Devil Wears Prada." So, if you're interested in a fun, easy read, I'd recommend "The Devil Wears Prada." If you're interested in Anna Wintour and plan to read both books, however, you should definitely read "The Devil Wears Prada" first. Somehow, I can't imagine it's quite as funny once you've read "Front Row" and realize how close to reality "The Devil Wears Prada" might actually be.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2006
i'm looking forward to the movie. and as i do with any movie spun off of a successful, well-known book, i decided to read the original material first, so i buy the book....
fortunately i bought the 7 dollar copy so i don't feel like i wasted too much on it. what a waste! the sad thing is, none of the characters are likable at all.
it has its moments(Mostly revolving around the titled devil, miranda priestly). but the dialogue is stilted and lame(much of what characters say are describing/explaining something that know regualr person would feel the need to say in real life, and which could easily be explained with naration), the plot is predictable, and andy, the main character, is too self-centered and pathetic to even deserve the title of 'heroine'.
i would like to know if whoever published this book did it as a practical joke. you know, get a good laugh out of it.
also, look for the part in the novel where weisenberger says in one paragraph that andy's apartment doens't have a kitchen, but in the VERY NEXT PARAGRAPH mentions her boyfriend going to the kitchen of her apartment.... sad
49 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2003
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA is the story of one Andrea Sachs, an annoyingly passive-aggressive Ivy League princess who we are told is so out of touch with fashion that she can't pronouce Givenchy and who thinks that Target carries a brand called Massimo (it's Mossimo) - but yet who knows what designer John Galliano looks like. Andrea, straight out of Brown, wants to be a serious writer for The New Yorker, so she of course follows her dream by becoming a personal assistant to the editor-in-chief at Vogue-clone Runway - as opposed to, oh, say, actually pursuing WRITING. This is our first clue that Andrea is seriously out of touch with reality, and it only gets worse.
We are informed (it is painfully apparent that author Lauren Weisberger never heard of the writing maxim "show, don't tell") that Andrea is quite possibly the Mother Theresa of Manhattan. Caring Andrea buys expensive Starbucks drinks for the homeless and actually - gasp!- learns the names of the drivers who ferry her around on her magazine's account. Virtuous Andrea turns down the advances of current "It Boy" hotshot writer, even though he has connections at her dream job, The New Yorker - as we are reminded every 50 pages. (We are told Andrea spurns him because "It Boy" is a lech, even though his behavior on paper is perfectly gentlemanly. Perhaps the confusion stems from Weisberger's wooden dialogue, which is overwritten and unbelievable to the ear, with no distinction in voice between the characters.) High-minded Andrea, who has actually read a Russian novelist and taken psych classes, looks down her nose at her shallow fashion-crazed colleagues, although that doesn't stop her from taking home from the office thousands of dollars' worth of Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and matching Louis Vuitton luggage.
However, even would-be saints have their dark sides, and Andrea's comes out in quite possibly the nastiest, grossest and passive-aggressive ways ever: she wipes her dirty hands on her boss's dry-cleaning and serves her boss lunch on dirty dishes, while dreaming of spitting into the food.
There is nothing likeable or sympathetic about Andrea, and her whiny diatribes about her miserable working life wear on the reader after page 100. When her boyfriend, the male Mother Theresa, finally tells her off, the reader cheers even it does come 260 pages too late.
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA has gained attention because it is supposedly a roman-a-clef about life as an assistant to Vogue editor Anna Wintour. However, the Anna figure here is such a caricature, any deeper understanding or insight into the real person is impossible. And we can't figure out why Andrea puts up with her in the first place. Yes, yes, we are told Andrea's reasons (think I'm mentioning The New Yorker too much? Then you haven't read the book) but the reader can't suspend disbelief. Besides, as someone who led an earlier life as a Hollywood assistant - Andrea had it fairly easy.
Like her character, who we are told managed to score $38,000 after selling all the stuff she "took" from the office, I hope Lauren Weisberger is capitalizing on the success of this novel. Because without the "Wintour is the devil" hype to sell her novel, her writing is vastly subpar. And the editor did her no favors - she let errors such as confusing "salon" with "saloon," and several confusing time shifts, stand. In the acknowledgements, Weisberger says to blame the editor for taking out all the really funny parts - one wishes that some of that had been allowed to stay, for the novel could definitely use a lighter touch. Too serious to be a satire, and too over-the-top to be a real life look at a fashion magazine, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA is instead what no book should be: boring.
256 of 314 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2003
Fashionistas around the globe have been salivating for the publication of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADAsince its first announcement. For those in love with all things Vogue et.al., who wouldn't want to read a deliciously biting roman a clef about a woman who is probably Anna Wintour and then some? Alas, that's the problem with the book, it only caters to those in the fashion know, which results in a shallow exercise of style over substance.
While author Lauren Weisberger has a grasp of sustaining a narrative, but the predictable scenarios she concocts are hardly the stuff of good fiction or, sadly, biting satire. Bitchy asides and brand names are stretched thin, for sure.
Even worse, her alter ego, Andrea, is too bland a creation for the reader to really care about. Her ambition is not telegraphed with any real force since all I kept thinking was why stick it out in a thankless job that is beyond demeaning? Is being a writer at the New Yorker that important? I'm sure it is for the character, but Ms. Weisberger's colorless prose fails to register such details with depth.
As for the infamous character of Miranda Priestly, I know plenty of folks like this woman. Hell, I even worked for one. The only real joy generated by this novel was smiling over what a complete and total virago she remains throughout the book. I also loved how Weisberger captured the absolute absurdity of such fields like fashion and other show business enterprises that rely so heavily on image. The worlds she creates are definitely based on some sort of fact, but it is unfortunate the she didn't take such an interest in her overall plot or characters.
Perhaps my dissatisfication in the novel stems from something greater. As "chick lit" continues to fill our minds and best seller charts, does the world need one more "Mary Tyler Moore-clone taking on the world on her terms kind of heroine?"
British sensation Helen Fielding offered some reality and humanity to the hip and happening world of Bridget Jones. However, Andrea Sachs is no Bridget Jones and the short-lasting effects of this novel makes you wonder why can't us Yankees create such a vivid piece of fiction!
Ultimately, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA is Diet coke for the brain. To be honest, I am tiring of our current fascination with excess, entitlement and shallowness. This hotly hyped novel implodes before its predictable "up yours" finale. Like the fashion magazines it lampoons -- it's all about really pretty pictures with ultimately very little to say.
46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2006
I tried very hard to like the character of Andrea Sachs and to root for her in dealing with her evil boss. Yes, Miranda Priestly is beastly, but Andrea's sense of entitlement seems boundless and she seems to invite more wrath from Miranda. I understand needing to go outside the office to have a cigarette, and I started out as a flunky assistant too. However, when Andrea is sent to buy her boss a coffee, it's expected that she return quickly. Instead, Andrea not only buys the boss's coffee, but also several others (which she charges to the company), and then distributes them to homeless people on her way back to the office. After the delay this causes, she sits down at her desk and eagerly looks forward to opening her personal email where she can read personal notes on the company's time. She's angered to spitting when the boss declares the coffee is cold and should be replaced. How dare the boss pull her away from her personal email? Because she's the boss, Andy! You shouldn't be buying things for others at your company's expense, you shouldn't be reading personal email on company time, and you shouldn't be complaining if the boss doesn't like it. If you don't like it, QUIT.
While Miranda does come across as the "Boss From Hell", Andrea seems to be under the impression that secretaries and assistants can simply go about their daily lives of coming in when they please, spending the day chatting with friends on their cell phones, checking and answering private email, receiving tens of thousands of dollars in free clothing (which they can pawn and keep the money), being flippant to middle management, and deciding when and how they're going to actually do the grubby tasks that are their job. Paragraphs are spent with Andrea complaining about having to be AT WORK AT 7AM. Wow! How horrible! How many folks have BEEN at work for HOURS by then? And not having to deal with a rotten boss either.....some are working on dangerous machinery, tending to the sick in hospitals, repairing computers for banks, dealing with the public from behind a cash register, and more. And these folks don't get to take a cab to work and have the company pay for it...they have to go out and scrape snow off their car and pray that it starts, or get into a vehicle that's so hot you have to wear oven mitts to touch the steering wheel.
I think that Andrea Sachs pretty well sums up the problems that companies have today......finding good help. I also think that she gives hardworking young people a bad name. If millions of young people entering the work force think that Andrea's conduct is the way to the top, they're going to be shocked and saddened when they find out that bosses expect you to work.
Unlike "The Nanny Diaries", which is another book about a young heroine being driven to the breaking point by her employer's insane demands, "The Devil Wears Prada" presents no reason for Andrea to put up with the crap doled out by her boss except pure greed. Nanny stays because she loves the child she cares for, and also because she sees that the Mother is also going through a hard time. The only reason Andrea stays at her job in "The Devil Wears Prada" is for all the freebies she can get or steal, and to put up with the job as a stepping stone to what she really wants to do. She's tolerating Miranda just as Miranda is tolerating her. This is NEVER the way to get and keep a job!
I gave this book one star rather than zero only because now that I'm an employer myself, the book helped me to see what I DON'T want to find in an employee.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2006
Were it not for the Manolo Blahniks and Prada and Chanel designs that liberally decorate this book, it would never have been glanced at by a serious editor. The reason for its great success is not great skill or remarkable storytelling, but the fact that it caters to the self-indulgent and self-centered world that is New York publishing. So many times I saw Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City in the lead character's role!
The author tells a good story. She has a real gift for words, and after about a dozen years seasoning, if she's not ruined by early and undeserved success, she might actually be a very good writer. It might also be a good move for her to shift to Hollywood, since her writing style is amazingly visual; I could easily see why her book was made into a movie so quickly.
Be that as it may -- the book is self-indulgent and sometimes bitter and even nasty. The main character is not particularly likeable, perhaps because her primary love interest is really herself (which, if you think about it, is the hallmark of many chick lits). The characters I did like lost out in the end -- Alex the boyfriend and the alcoholic roommate Lily who was utterly lost in the world. There was no attention paid to rising tension -- tension rose to a certain level and plateaued by the third chapter. It was like a picaresque novel without the travel and excitement, and after a while you got weary of the miraculous monty-haul part with driven cars and high-fashion clothes and meeting celebrities. If more attention had been paid to the overwhelmingness of this for the main character, perhaps the book would have been better. Instead, after an initial bump of shock, Ahn-dre-ah pretty much accepted it as her due.
There was no real conflict in the character, at least not a convincing one. There was no real goal (enduring the boss for a year, as a passive action, does not count); I mean, she wanted to be a writer -- where in the first 4/5 of the book did she sit down to write anything? Even with a boss from hell, there's a little time here and there -- or she could have sacrificed her mornings -- or something. Shown some gumption! A good character must want, and want desperately; I never saw that anywhere. These characters all pretty much drifted. And there was no real structure. It was a very odd novel in these respects. The characters were also very flat, very nearly caricatures. Sometimes actions didn't make sense; the taking-away of the credit card by the parents when the plot needed some tension, and then the miraculous returning of it because she needed it for furniture, makes me think that perhaps a little editing needed to be done there. It could have happened in real life, but in a story it's irritating -- why take it away only to give it back in a deus ex machina?
But, and I have to be honest, I really, really took umbrage at one particular aspect of the book that is clearly part of the author and not of the characters alone: her obvious disdain for the South and all things Southern. You see, I'm from the South, speak with that-ther hick accent, was raised by rednecks and hillbillies, and yes, even go barefoot from time to time. My broad foot would not fit in a Manolo Blahnik. I think those models in magazines need a sandwich or two. And it honestly pissed me off to hear different characters repeatedly make fun of the hick accents and complain about how the Southern drawl made them sick and how Andrea's sister had picked up her own fake drawl and how those Southern hicks chaw on tobacco and the sound of their voices would drill a hole in your eardrum -- you know, Southerners read too? It might be a good idea to try being culturally sensitive for a few minutes. We hate Noo Yawk accents too, but we don't sit and write nasty things about them. Usually.
Bottom line: interesting story that could have been told much better by a seasoned writer, or by this writer working in conjunction with a talented and devoted editor. Chunks of description dropped in, flashbacks, and the same actions described ad nauseum lead me to believe that cutting about 25% out of this book in the right places, and changing nothing else, would have made it significantly better. And if you can cut that much out of a story without ruining it, there's something wrong.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2004
This is by far the worst book I have read in years. Not only are the characters one dimensional, but the writing is terrible.
Now at page 88, I am making the decision to throw this book in the trash, to express my disgust. After all, there is no sense in wasting my time in addition to my money.
What pushed me over the edge, you ask? The following paragraph:
"I finally freed (the cell phone) from a tangle of underwear at the bottom of the bag and flopped backward on the bed. The little screen announced immediately that I had no service at that point, and I knew immediately, instinctively that she (her boss) had called and it had gone directly to voice mail. I hated that cell phone with my entire soul. I even hated my new home phone by this point. I hated Lily's phone, commercials of phones, pictures of phones in magazines and I even hated Alexander Graham Bell."
My question is: Has anyone edited this???
It makes me cringe to know that this novel was on the New York Times bestseller list for six month. It is very scary to think that anyone out there would be satisfied with this dismal quality.
35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2003
I'd like to be nice about this-the author is young-but I can't be nice and honest at the same time. This is one of the worst books I've ever read. Motivated to purchase it by the hype and looking for something juicy, "The Devil Wears Prada" was not much more than a great title. The author simply cannot hide behind her experience as onetime assistant to Vogue's Anna Wintour no matter how much she expects us to believe this was a product of an overactive imagination making things up at four in the morning.
First of all, it's poorly written-filled with flat peripheral characters-and includes passive voice, clichés and sentences ending in prepositions (HORRORS!) for which she actually apologizes since she, and by she I of course mean her main character, fancies herself a talented and educated writer headed for a position with "The New Yorker." Without a doubt it is a thinly veiled product of the author's personal experience, which may have been easier to swallow if she didn't write in the first person. This main character, Andrea Sachs, a junior personal assistant to the most influential woman in fashion, is as loathsome and arrogant as her boss, the she-devil named Miranda Priestly. I would have loved to hate the demanding and rude Miranda, but in this story she is a boring, two-dimensional villain. The only reason I stayed with it for over 330 pages was so that I could see just how this lowly assistant would finally leave her hellish enslavement. And even that was terribly unsatisfactory. What could have been a truly triumphant moment, turned into a squeak ("that's all!") and an opportunity to profit on the resale of thousands of dollars worth of designer clothes she'd "borrowed" from the magazine's "closet."
Ms. Wiesenberger may have just signed the book deal a "million girls would die for," but this sort of kiss-and-tell book-a mere opportunity to name drop and dish the rich and famous-reeks of bitterness and naiveté. (Writing this review makes me feel the same way!) The only thing I can say I truly enjoyed was her dedication and acknowledgments. Now that writing was witty. As for the rest of it, save your money. If you like this kind of thing and want something dishy, read The Nanny Diaries instead.