Book review: Revenge wears Prada: The Devil Returns

Magnificent Meryl in <i>The Devil Wears Prada</i>.

Magnificent Meryl in The Devil Wears Prada.

It’s been ten years since Lauren Weisberger famously penned a fictional story based on her time as Anna Wintour’s assistant. For some reason she decided to write a sequel. Spoiler alert: It sucks.  

You have some very large shoes to fill. I hope you know that.

I first learnt there was going to be a sequel to The Devil Wears Prada when a red carpet reporter asked Meryl Streep at the 2012 Women in Film awards if she would be on board for another film. Her answer, “Sure, I mean, I’d have to lose the f*cking weight, but yes. I guess I would do that, yeah.” This proved two things to me, that Meryl Streep gets more and more awesome, and I was beyond excited for this sequel.

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You know how the movie is NEVER better than the book? Well, I hadn’t read The Devil Wears Prada since it was first released ten years ago. Back then I was still in my late teens, dreamed of working in fashion and as a long time subscriber to Vogue with an Anna Wintour obsession, I devoured every page of that book. 

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When the film came out I must have seen it 3 or 4 times at the cinema and since then I would have watched it at least once a year (okay more like 5 times a year) on DVD. 

The film is absolutely killer. Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt and of course Meryl are fantastic. Patricia Field nailed the fashion. Not a week can go by without one of my friends or colleagues seamlessly incorporating a quote from the film into our general conversation. 

In anticipation of the sequel novel, I recently re-read the original and realised immediately that the film is so superior you can hardly compare the two texts. 

In this case, the film is infinitely better than the book. So much better, that I am sure fans will have forgotten the sins of the book and instead be using the film as the benchmark. 

Details of your incompetence do not interest me.

There is no way of getting around this; Lauren Weisberger, quite simply is not a good writer. The first novel was such a success only because of the Anna factor. Lauren based The Devil Wears Prada on her time as Anna Wintour’s assistant at Vogue and everyone wanted to read about the famously frosty editor. 

Like the original, the follow-up book is poorly structured with rambling paragraphs and very little direction. Conversation is minimal, and many chapters read as huge, long blocks of copy. 

When it does happen, the conversation is clunky and unnatural. There is a conversation that takes place between Andy, her husband, Miranda and Valentino that is so cringe-worthy I had to skip a few pages until I could be sure it was over. 

The novel begins with a dream (predictable from the first sentence) and ends with a ‘one year later’ chapter. In between, Lauren Weisberger plays hard and loose with time. Frequently I would start a new chapter and it would take a few pages to realise that apparently six months had gone by since the previous chapter ended. 

By all means move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.

The time might move quickly but the story is sloooooow. Fifty pages in I was wondering if anything was going to happen at all. I realised that the only reasons I kept turning the pages were that I had already offered to write this review, and I was waiting for Miranda Priestly to return. One hundred pages in and still no Miranda. The editrix doesn’t roll in to the party until page 178. Thankfully when she does the book becomes vaguely more interesting. It's clear Lauren Weisberger still has many memories from her days working for Anna that she is keen to put into print. 

Unfortunately the scenes with Miranda are few and far between, but at least they are spaced just close enough together that you can keep reading to the end.

Did you fall down and smack your little head on the pavement?

I can’t believe in a world where former assistants and rivals; Andy and Emily are the very best of friends. It’s pretty clear early in the piece that Lauren really struggled to bring all the characters back together. Apparently Emily was fired from Runway “for no reason” (read: Lauren couldn’t think of a plausible reason) and came across Andy in a cooking class.

Does anyone believe Emily would take a cooking class?

Emily went on to work at Harper’s Bazaar after being fired from Runway. After bonding over their mutual hate for Miranda, the girls join forces to create and launch a bridal magazine.

Does anyone believe Emily would leave Harper’s for a start-up magazine?

And seriously, does anyone believe Emily would leave a high fashion glossy for a bridal magazine?

You have no sense of fashion ... No, no, that wasn't a question.

It is glaringly obvious that Lauren Weisberger knows absolutely nothing about fashion - the proof is in every clothing, designer and style reference she makes throughout the book. She describes one outfit as ‘downright funky’. I mean, my mum says that. As. A. Joke. 

At another point, Andy enters the Elias Clark building and spots a Runway girl - she describes her outfit in awe, and as readers we are meant to understand that this outfit is the pinnacle of fashion. Except the Runwaygirl is apparently wearing shiny white leggings. Could there be any one item of clothing less fashionable that shiny white leggings? Are we really meant to believe that the likes of Plum Sykes, Tonne Goodman and Grace Coddington would wear shiny white leggings? In fact, outside of sci-fi films have you ever seen a woman wear shiny white leggings? 

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Andy and Emily attend a cocktail party and Andy struggles to pull together an outfit. That’s fine - that’s part of her character. But when she gets to the party she spots Emily who apparently encompasses everything fashion, in a ‘neon pink Herve Leger bandage dress’. In 2013. I can’t even. 

Don’t be ridiculous Andrea. Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us. 

Throughout the first book Andy is constantly reminded that she has “a job a million girls would kill for”. As readers, we are supposed to sympathise with Andy that her boss is basically on par with Hitler as far as villains go, and that everything she is made to do is unreasonable.

When I read The Devil Wears Prada as an impressionable writing student hoping for a future career in mags, I remember thinking the character didn’t appreciate her opportunities.

Ten years on and now a fully-fledged mag girl who has experienced working for a boss from hell (for the record – it was none of my editors) - I still think Andy is a whinging pain in the arse who doesn’t appreciate or respect the opportunities she is given.

Without giving any details away (in case you still want to read it) Andy continues down this path in Revenge Wears Prada.

Bottom line: The book version of Andy is annoying and unlikable.

That’s all.

Do yourself a favour and watch the film again instead.

 This article originally appeared on The Vine