Who said fashion is all about the next new thing? Author Lauren Weisberger revisits her over-the-top characters from The Devil Wears Prada, including top magazine editor and ice queen Miranda Priestly, 10 years later in her latest novel. Other than a few fleeting trends that clearly define the setting as 2013, things haven’t changed all that much.
Miranda, widely rumored to be based on Vogue’s Anna Wintour, for whom Weisberger once worked, isn’t really the main character, although she is the most fun to read about. The story belongs to Andy Sachs — or Ahn-dre-ah — as Miranda likes to call her.
Andy quit Runway magazine at the end of the last book, taking pleasure in leaving Miranda high and dry in Paris without an assistant. Miranda isn’t kind to those who work for her, and her cold, calculating and cruel ways have haunted Andy for a decade. The story opens with a literal nightmare about Andy not delivering Miranda’s lunch on time. Andy often calls her “inhumane.”
But Miranda also is unpredictable: She trades her trim Prada dresses and Chanel suits for a maxi dress at one point! That’s jaw-dropping. Seriously.
Miranda wants to buy the wedding magazine created by Andy and her friend Emily, also a formerly tortured Runway employee. For Miranda to make small talk with these women — and even invite them into her home — in an attempt to court them to sell her an idea that she couldn’t take credit for is practically mind-boggling. Of course Miranda swiftly reverts to her normal self, but it’s fun to see her try so hard to be civil and gracious, and especially to see her flirt with tennis star Rafael Nadal. (Wintour is a famous fan of tennis and its top players.)
Andy, however, isn’t all that interesting. At times, the reader can appreciate her principles and even some of her insecurities. Sometimes they are a little too much. In the relatively small, insular world of fashion magazines, after having considerable success, would Andy really still tremble at the mere mention of Miranda’s name?
The book successfully sprinkles pop culture tidbits to keep up the breezy tone, but the mix of real and fictional references can be puzzling: Why use the real names of Nadal, designer Monique Lhuillier and hairstylist Oscar Blandi when the celebrities that seem so obviously fashioned on Beyonce and Jay-Z are called Harper Hallow and Clarence “Mack” Dexter?
The of-the-moment shout-outs might also limit the shelf life of the book, but for this summer, it’s a pleasant, entertaining read in a tabloid magazine sort of way.
Samantha Critchell reviewed this book for the Associated Press.