Author: Lauren Weisberger, 2003.
Genre: Chick-Lit. Satire. Fashion. Roman à Clef.
Other Details: Audiobook. Unabridged (14 hrs, 4 mins). Read by Bernadette Dunne.
Aspiring journalist Andrea Sachs is fresh out of collage and manages to land a job that "a million girls would die for" as the assistant to the legendary, much fawned-over editor of Runway magazine, Miranda Priestly. Andrea feels that she is very different to those around her yet finds herself jumping in response to Miranda's outrageous demands. Still Andrea keeps her eye on the prize of receiving a recommendation from Miranda that will open doors for her at the magazine of her choosing, The New Yorker. Yet as Miranda's demands become more extreme Andrea has to consider whether the real price of the job is her soul.
Following her own graduation Lauren Weisberger did work as an assistant to Anna Wintour of Vogue magazine and naturally when this novel was published there was a fair amount of speculation about what was taken from her real life experiences. There was also criticism levelled at her, most notably by another former Wintour assistant writing in the New York Times, who described it as 'bite-the-boss' fiction and slammed Weisberger for not appreciating Wintour's fabulousness. Such a response isn't that surprising as the novel is fiercely critical of the excesses of the fashion world and it is hard to imagine those who are part of that world applauding Weisberger for taking up the role of the little boy in 'The Emperor has No Clothes' or in this case the Empress. I expect though that many still read it in secret. Magazines owned by the same company as Vogue didn't review or even mention the novel.
Still this criticism and shunning didn't prevent the novel from becoming a best-seller and also having gone on to become a classic of the chick-lit genre. Aside from being a satire of the fashion industry it does highlight the horrors of unreasonable bosses and their demands, something that can be found in any field.
I found this was just what I needed this week, something light and fluffy yet with razor-sharp wit. I had seen the film adaptation years ago yet found the original novel shaper in its satire and much funnier. I suspect that while Weisberger didn't mind whose nose she point out of joint the film folk didn't really want to make a film that was too critical of the fashion world given their symbiotic relationship.
I felt that Bernadette Dunne did a wonderful job of capturing Andrea's voice as well as the other characters.
Lauren Weisberger's Page on 'The Devil Wear Prada' - includes link to first chapter excerpt.