Review: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Monday, January 27, 2014

Title: The Devil Wears Prada
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Pages: 432
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday (Random House)
Pub. Date: April 15, 2003

So, the reason I picked this one up is because I wanted to read the sequel, Revenge Wears Prada, as soon as I saw it was out but didn't feel right doing so since I hadn't read this one - only seen the movie. The movie version is, however, one of my favorites, and I've enjoyed all of Weisberger's other books (I've read them all) so I figured, why not? (I actually planned on reading the sequel when I went to Thailand, but to date I have not yet read it, lol).

Real quick recap for those who don't know: Andy (Andrea) Sachs, studious and fashion-backwards, is fresh out of college with a desire to work for the New York Times. She ends up taking a job as an assistant to the editor-in-chief of fashion magazine, Runway, Miranda Priestly, who is an icy cold horrid woman whom the fashion world reveres as a goddess. Andy tries to stick it out for a year because she has heard that a year working for her essentially equals three to four years at any other job and could catapult her to any place she'd want to work. But Miranda is the most devilish and difficult boss one could possibly work and whose ridiculousness adds to the book's humor.

Even though I saw the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one! And the movie was different enough that I was kept wondering what was going to happen next while enjoying the parts that were similar. As with all book/movie comparisons, I liked that I was able to read more into Andy's thought processes. In the movie, I don't think we quite understood how much Andy was still hating everything along the way - more like she morphed into one of the Runway girls herself, whereas in the book she may look and play the part but is very clearly still understanding of how ridiculous it is. Just as with the movie I was so saddened by how her family and friends ended up taking a backseat to her job; the movie changed the dynamics, though, in the relationships, and the book actually made things more serious in some ways which was surprising. It made sense in the book but I can see why they changed that in the movie because it did seem sort of out of place with the atmosphere of the story. (But that could also be because it was the biggest difference from what I'm used to watching).

The Devil Wears Prada was a super fun book that I definitely recommend, especially if you're a fan of the movie but haven't read the book yet. I'm glad I went back and read this one.

Review: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Monday, January 6, 2014

Title: Beautiful Ruins Author: Jess Walter
Pages: 337
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Harper Perennial (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: June 12, 2012 (hardcover); April 2, 2013 (paperback)

This book was on many "best of" lists in 2012...  I loved Jess Walter's The Financial Lives of the Poets, so that drew me to this as well. But with a fairly vague synopsis and it being so different than Financial Lives, I kept putting it off. But I should have known better! I hate to say the same thing so many other bloggers said, but it really IS so hard to explain, and it really IS about so many things, but I'll do my best.

The main storyline, if you can narrow it down, follows a young man, Pasquale, in 1962 Porto Vergogna, Italy, as he tries to turn his family's hotel, The Hotel Adequate View, into a tourist destination. Then there's the American actress who turns up to stay at his hotel while filming a movie (Cleopatra with Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, yes the real one) in Rome. There's the American man who goes to Italy every year in an attempt to get away and write a book. Then present day, there's a famous movie producer, Michael Deane and his frustrated assistant, Claire. There's Shane, a spoiled script writer trying to pitch his movie. There's a middle aged man whose life has gone pretty much nowhere after being in various bands who then starts a comedy music show. Each of these characters is all connected, and you don't have to wait until the end to find out how. Within the first third of the book at least you know how most are connected. You may not like all the characters, but they are all so interesting and in some instances, scandalous.

It's not just the characters and their stories that illuminate Beautiful Ruins though. Not only is the writing intelligent (and infused with subtle humor), but the storytelling methods were so clever. Though there's mostly traditional narration, there's also a chapter from a book, part of a memoir, a pitched movie script, a play, and I could be forgetting something. Each of these was interesting, moved the story forward, and added so much. Then there's also the themes running through the book of people living their lives trying to accomplish their dreams and not always quite getting there - but maybe finding themselves along the way. It's also about how the people in our lives affect us. I loved the following quotes.

"This is what happens when you live in dreams, he thought: you dream this and you dream that and you sleep right through your life." -pg 218

All we have is the story we tell. Everything we do, every decision we make, our strength, weakness, motivation, history, and character -- what we believe -- none of it is real; it's all part of the story we tell. But here's the thing: it's our goddamned story!" -pg 266

Another interesting thing was the way Walters incorporated the real life scandals that took place during the filming of the movie, Cleopatra. He even made Richard Burton a character in the book!

Anyway, loved Beautiful Ruins! It's still in my head after several days, and now I can't wait to read more of Walter's books!

Rating: 5 out of 5