Friday, October 27, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

I finished The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger fairly quickly. It was a much faster read than my previous books since, quite frankly, it's a bit of superficial read.

Andrea (Andy) find herself graduated from college and feeling rather blase about finding work. She is surprised when one of her randomly dropped of resumes to a magazine company lands her an interview and then a job as the junior personal assistant to the Editor in Chief of Runway magazine. While this might be a job that "a million girls would die for" Andy finds her boss to be a little overly demanding.

The pros:
Very funny in spots.
An interesting look at fashion and fashion magazines and their tendency to take themselves too seriously
A lot of girls/women might be able to identify with the fashion-outsider Andy who wants something more meaningful despite her the "big break" she's received.

The cons:
Way too predictable. No wonder it was made into a Hollywood move (all of which follow a very predictable formula - I'll dig it out from a script writing class I took).
Too many lists- I know the idea was to prove that the author really knows about this world of fashion and fashion magazines and in an attempt to make it more "authentic" or "real" she would include page long lists of designers that someone meets with or what's in a suitcase, mostly I skipped these parts they did nothing for the plot and so, in my opinion, were practically unnecessary.
The plot was flat. About half way through I wanted to scream, "I get it! The woman is a heartless bitch and Andy is having the soul sucked out of her. Where is the plot? Where is the problem? What's going on?" Really, a plot should be the character going through hardships, encountering problems, solving them, moving on to greater obstacles to their goals. Maybe the problem is that the goals and problems in this book were too mundane. Andy wants to be a writer for the New Yorker. She thinks this job will put her on the fast track, too bad her boss is an uber-bitch. But do I really need hundreds of pages of her daily horrific sleep-deprived routine? Some of the interesting things, when she gets thrown for a loop and made to go to parties or runway shows were the most interesting "problems" she encounters (beats hearing about her Starbucks runs from hell) but there weren't enough of them.
The narrative also needed some tweaking. The book starts out at point B when Andy is already in her job from hell, then moves backwards to point A on how she got this job, and goes forward into point C. My problem here is not that structure it can work well, except that we never come back to point B (the beginning) before moving on to point C (the end). I kept thinking that all of this was in the past only to get to the end and find out, that I had been wrong for a good portion of the book. I blame the publisher/editor/agent/whoever-read-this-thing-before-printing-it for not catching and correcting that mistake.

The movie: I have not seen it. But...I can say that I totally see where the casting came from. I can think of no better person than Glen Close to play Miranda Preistly, the horrible boss. And I totally see how they could see Anne Hathaway in the role. I noticed in the book Andy is often referred to as "Blondie," though Anne Hathaway is not. I am hoping that this was done based on Anne Hathaway's acting ability and the fact that they wanted her regardless of "looks" and not some decision that brunettes are somehow more likely than blondes to be fashion-challenged as Andy is in the book. Also, in the book Andy's boyfriend is named Alex (how cute!) , but the movie changes it to Nate. Not a huge deal, and I can see how someone might not want the "too cute" assonance of their names.

I am actually looking forward to the movie because I think it might actually be better than the book, which I don't think happens that often. I just think that the mediocre plot line, but interesting characters, plus the engaging actors will lend itself better to the screen than the book.

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