14/09/2013

Review of Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns


































I loved The Devil Wears Prada (the book and the movie both) - I've read the book about three times and practically know every scene of the movie by heart. I remember watching it - again - the night before I began my internship at Cosmopolitan Sweden and once again falling in love with the hectic glamour of it all. It's a guilty pleasure, like a piece of mouthwatering vegan lava cake.

When I found out there was a sequel, I couldn't wait. I was a bit put off by the book's beyond-awful reviews - I'm talking about the reviewers' whining, even if some were on point (the best worst review: this one, actually very well written and accurate on many points). What did they expect, a Nobel Prize winner? Lauren Weisberger's chick-lit is smart, chic and funny, but it's hardly rocket science. With that in mind, I have to say I both liked and disliked the book.

THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!



The ever-so-glossy sequel takes us ten years forward in time after the end of the first Devil book. Andrea Sachs is now editor of her own high-end wedding magazine, which she started with her former nemesis, Emily, Miranda Priestly's first assistant ("I'm sorry, do you have a prior commitment? Some hideous-skirt convention you have to go to?"), who was fired weeks before a promotion, shortly following Andy's swift exit in Paris. Now, I have to say that contrary to many of the reviewers, I don't find a friendship between Andy and Emily all that unlikely. After all, they went through the Runway inferno together, so is it really that strange that they grow, evolve and realise they actually quite like each other? What I didn't find very likely was the way that they met again, in a cooking class. Like the above review says - in what universe would Emily ever take a cooking class?

In the beginning of the book, Andy marries Max, the son of a media mogul, taking over his deceased father's empire. Millionaire-boy Max, apart from being the perfect husband, is also one of the biggest investors in Andy and Emily's magazine.

What really bothered me about this whole setup (aside from the magazine's name, The Plunge, which conjured up images of a toilet plunger), was the lasting notion that apparently all you need to start your own magazine are connections and an investor husband. With the help of movies and TV through the years, I have learned to just accept that New York City doesn't operate quite like the rest of the world, but the idea that Andy Sachs, she of the frizzy hair and eye-wateringly horrible shoes, the one who wanted to write investigative stories for The New Yorker, would be interested in starting a magazine about weddings - let alone have the visual skills, the supreme attention to detail and the borderline-obsessive fascination with luxury and celebrity necessary to actually start and run an extremely successful upscale wedding magazine is just too simplistic, even for NYC. I understand that Lauren Weisberger had to re-create an impossibly glossy scenario in order to capture reader attention, but this time it borders on too impossible. Especially when, three years after the launch, the magazine is acclaimed enough to attract the attentions of Elias-Clark editorial director (and Runway EIC), the Devil herself, Miranda Priestly, who shows an insistent interest in acquiring it.

And this is where things get interesting.

Up until now, I've been flipping through what seems like pages of a very enticing and attention-grabbing high-end NYC soap opera: on her wedding day, Andy finds a note from Max's mother Barbara, begging him not to marry her. She also finds out Max ran into his ex, Katherine, on his bachelor party trip to Bermuda. If you're waiting for a twist to this story, be warned: there isn't one. I kept wishing Katherine would show up, dazzle everyone with her Prada sweater-sets and throw an icy comment Andy's way, but she never did. Andy simply obsesses over it for ages, until she finds out she's preggers. The story then veers into a never-ending tale of motherhood, until the Devil steps into the story again, after over 100 pages! I waited and waited and waited for her to appear - and finally she does.

My number-one criticism of the book is that Miranda isn't in it enough. The number of - fabulous! - Devil scenes amount to a grand total of FOUR, and in one of them she doesn't say a word. For a Miranda lover like me, this was a big disappointment. Of course Miranda completely takes over and rules every scene she's in, no matter how few. The dinner at her home, where Emily gets sucked back into her wide-eyed admiration for the stylish woman that humiliated and fired her, and Andy remains adamant in her refusal to let Miranda back into their lives, is a stunning scene. You can feel ice oozing off the pages when Miranda talks. But we needed more scenes like that, Lauren! That's the reason why we buy the book - not for three hundred pages on Andy's personal life.

I must confess I never cared for Andy much. In the first book and film, I frankly found her a bit disrespectful and very ungrateful. You don't show up to a job interview looking like that (comb your hair, woman, comb your darn hair!). You don't show up to a job interview not KNOWING a single fact about the magazine or the person you're supposed to be working for. You don't laugh at people while they work (those belts were completely different and Miranda's telling-off of her was The. Best. Moment. Ever) and if you think a job is that much beneath you, here's a tip: don't take it. In this book, she keeps relentlessly complaining: she contemplates leaving her new husband for accidentally running into an ex, she lets her mother-in-law's disapproval completely cripple her and just the mention of Miranda's name gives her a panic attack. Ten years later. In some scenes, of this and the first book, I actually prefer Emily. Sure, she's superficial, but at least she's dedicated, passionate about her work and a go-getter. Plus, she knows how to dress.

In the end (SPOILER!!!!) Max and Emily team up to trick Andy and sell the magazine behind her back. This is where the story completely flips. Max, that until now was a loving and doting husband, is now suddenly someone we're supposed to hate. Emily, Andy's new BFF, is all of a sudden the enemy again. Andy quits the magazine she built up, becomes a freelance writer and gets back together with her ex-boyfriend Alex, the one who was mysteriously renamed Nate in the movie and basically spent the entire film making fun or her career. In the book, he's slightly more bearable, but still, it feels like Andy's back where she started once again. Miranda gets the magazine, fires Emily once again and basically "wins" - I guess that's what the "revenge" part of the title is about.

If I wrote this book (and how I wish I had!), Andy and Emily would both be dazzled by the Elias-Clark offer, sell the magazine and then Andy would realise, after being terrorised by Miranda for many delightful scenes, that it was indeed a very bad move, and Max would help them find a legal loophole that would undo the whole deal. Max would also take Andy's side, stand up to his mother and reject the family wealth in a big dramatic scene. Now that would be a story.

I finished the book on my holiday - it was a delicious beach read - and truly couldn't put it down as I escaped into the glossy Manhattan world it so enticingly presents. I even had fun picking at all the things I disliked about the story. Say what you want - but boring it ain't. If they do decide to make a movie, I hope they re-write the story a bit and expand on the Meryl scenes. My version above is for sale if anyone's interested!




5 comments:

  1. I couldn't have said it better myself! I just finished and I feel like I totally saw Andy and Alex reconnecting from the very beginning but I just couldn't shake my disbelief that the ever-loving Max would do that...when Clem kept saying "daddy" I secretly hoped it was him in the kitchen...I vote your version to screen! :)

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  2. What really annoyed me was the superbly bad writing and her whining - really we all had horrible bosses at one point, but most of us don't suffer from panic attacks 10 years later. She makes it sound Miranda was beating her with that turquoise belt.
    Also that relationship with Max...I don't get it. Strongly reminded me of 50 Shades of Grey, pathetic girl gets married and swept a way my something mogul with mother issues.

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  3. I found the Max character one-dimensional and quite frankly, all that gooey baby stuff made me want to throw up in my mouth. The first book was way better.

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  4. Good review, Sascha. I personally found the Max character one-dimensional and quite frankly, all the gooey baby stuff made we want to throw up. The first book was way better!

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  5. where can i buy the yellow cover one?

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