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Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Devil Wears Prada


As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I don't usually read books like The Devil Wears Prada. Barring the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella, I therefore have no experience with this genre. However, I enjoyed this book. It was light, funny, sarcastic and interesting enough that I finished the book pretty fast. The other book in the omnibus I borrowed, however, (Everyone Worth Knowing, also by Laura Weisberger) did not hold my interest. It somehow seemed a bit too similar to The Devil Wears Prada, even though the plots are quite different. The protagonist did not capture my sympathy immediately, and I did not persevere, because I have a lot of books on my list right now.

It is easy to feel sympathetic towards Andy. As the under-dog, and apparently a virtual slave to her demonic boss, Miranda Priestly, she inspires sympathy. As someone working for a company whose views/principles she does not agree with or endorse, she inspires liking as a victim of a scenario that is - sadly - very familiar. I have not had a job yet, but I still understand (and am very familiar with) the thinking that leads one to take up a job one hates, because it will one day lead to greener pastures. The book has a very clear message - Priestly's powerful and prestigious position gives her no right to trample over her underlings and whoever she believes to be her inferior in class and taste. The author also seems to believe that fashion is a field that is given far too much importance (the gravity with which Miranda's myriad eccentric orders are treated is heavily satirized in the book), and that it endorses many unhealthy fads including the belief that one has to be stick-thin to be attractive. The book is reportedly partly based on the author's experience working as an assistant to the notorious, fur-endorsing editor of Vogue, Anna Wintour. The author however, refutes any allegations that Priestly is based on Wintour. Anna Wintour makes a small appearance in the book, but we are told she and Miranda dislike each other.
Doesn't Meryl Streep look amazing as Miranda Priestly? I haven't seen the movie yet, though.

Miranda Priestly is a very one-dimensional character. It is impossible to like her or feel any understanding, because we see her through Andy's eyes, and Andy constantly fantasizes about killing or otherwise maiming Miranda. Although the author makes valid points about the unhealthiness of endorsing, and creating, the view that girls need to be razor-thin to wear good clothes and look beautiful, and the pettiness and hypocrisy that sometimes exist in Priestly's world, it seems that she is biased against the fashion world, and believes it to be shallow and undeserving of the attention it receives. It would have been nicer if she had made Miranda a more complex character, and developed her a bit, but the book is, after all, written in first-person from Andy's point of view, and in Andy's view, Miranda is the Devil who wears Prada.