Lauren Weisberger’s Chasing Harry Winston

Although not a favorite among critics, I found Lauren Weisberger’s Chasing Harry Winston to be highly entertaining and fun.  It tells the story of three best friends, Emmy, Adriana and Leigh, who, on the verge of turning thirty create a pact (bet?) to drastically change their lives.  Emmy vows to do away with serial monogamy and play the field a bit.  Adriana decides to mend her boy-hopping ways and settle into a full-fledged relationship.  Leigh chooses not to do anything at first because her life seems perfect, but as the story progresses we see that that may not be the case after all.

The story unfolds as Emmy, who thinks that her longtime boyfriend is about to propose to her, gets dumped, while Leigh’s boyfriend, Russell, proposes unexpectedly.  Emmy is heartbroken because, despite her ex’s cheating ways – something that she overlooked – she was optimistic that they were going to last.  She tries to be happy for Leigh, but she can’t help but feel sad.  Emmy end up taking a job that requires her to do quite a bit of globe-trotting, as a means to get away and stay busy.  I think that her decision to play the field stems from a few things (heartbreak, Leigh’s engagement, etc), but it ultimately turns out to be the best thing she ever does, because it allows her to gain control over her life and date/define relationships on her terms instead of just going along with whatever the guy thinks.  In the end it pays off by giving her the confidence that she had been lacking; the one thing that will get her exactly what she wants.

Confidence is not something that Adriana is in need of; in fact, at times one could say that she may have too much confidence, if there is such a thing.  She lives a carefree, pampered life due to the fact that her parents have a ton of money.  Her decision to settle down – or at least attempt to – partially stems from Emmy’s situation (what better way to encourage your friend to change her lifestyle than by changing your own as well?) and partially because, although she does love her life, I think that she was a bit bored with all of it.  She needed to add a bit of depth.  For her, monogamy was a challenge.  She had no problem getting a guy, the question is, would she keep him?

And then there’s Leigh.  Throughout the novel, Leigh experiences a bit of emotional turmoil.  On paper, her life is perfect.  She’s an editor at a major trade publishing house, and she is engaged to one of the city’s most eligible bachelors, but something is off.  She doesn’t feel the spark that you’re supposed to feel when you’re in love, but Russell is perfect on paper (and to everybody in her life), so she stays with him.  It’s not until Leigh is introduced to Jessie, her new client, and starts traveling to his Hamptons’ home on the weekends to edit his new novel, that she lets these feelings of uncertainty with Russell come to the surface, and starts to explore the idea of not being with him.

Chasing Harry Winston is good for anyone who is in the mood for a really fun, girly read.  I think the parts about Emmy are particularly entertaining, as she is the only character who puts a name on her year of boy-hopping, appropriately called “Tour de Whore” (how awesome is that?!).  The characters of Adriana and Leigh are great too.  All in all, this is a great book that I did not want to put down.  I was able to read it in less than a week.

Lauren Weisberger’s Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns

Rarely have I found a sequel to be as entertaining, or capture as much energy as the original book that inspired it.  More often than not, the author tries in vain to achieve the same level of perfection, but never quite reaches it.  Thankfully, the latter cannot be said of Lauren Weisberger’s Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns, the long awaited sequel to her 2003 novel The Devil Wears Prada, based on her experience of working as an assistant to Vogue’s Anna Wintour (published June 4, 2013, by Simon & Schuster).  In the ten-year interim, she has written three other novels (of which I may check out quite soon), but really, Revenge is what we (fans of both the novel and subsequent film) have been waiting for.

Interestingly enough, Revenge is set ten years after The Devil Wears Prada (coincidence? I think not!), bringing back Andrea “Andy” Sachs, Emily Charlton and Miranda Priestly.  It opens on the morning of Andy’s wedding to the handsome Max Harrison – who comes from a family of stature, but has recently experienced some financial setbacks – and she is best friends with Emily – which is odd, but somehow they have a good dynamic.  Andy and Emily founded and head a high-end wedding magazine together, called The Plunge (what Runway is to the fashion world), of which is how Andy met Max in the first place; he was a friend of Emily’s husband Miles (yes, Emily is actually married, although there is talk throughout the novel of Miles’ play-boy ways), and was at the party that Andy and Emily threw to get investors three years prior.

All that being said, Andy is awoken on the morning of her wedding from a nightmare, where she was still working as Miranda’s assistant and going crazy trying to meet her impossible demands.  She is comforted briefly by Max who snuck in to see her, only to become paralyzed with shock upon the discovery of a letter to Max from his mother Barbara, begging him not to go through with the wedding, just moments before having to walk down the aisle.

From that day forward, Andy’s life is never the same.  Miranda begins courting Andy and Emily in hopes of purchasing The Plunge.  We see a softer, “almost human” side of her as she tries to woo the girls into giving her what she wants, which, we all know is just a formality, because no one says no to Miranda.  Emily is thrilled and ready to sign the magazine away, except Andy doesn’t want to sell for a few reasons, one being that there’s a clause in the contract that states that the editorial staff stays on for at least a year after the acquisition…and Andy does not want to work for Miranda again.  Andy also has things going on in her personal life, she becomes a mother, and she crosses paths with her ex-boyfriend Alex, the one who broke her heart not too long after she quit working for Miranda, the one whom she still obsesses about…the one who got away.

This is where Revenge matches up to The Devil Wears Prada.  The extravagant parties and fashion are still there, the anxiety of Miranda is still there – Miranda is still there, which, as we all know makes the book; she’s the character that you love to hate – and over the course of one evening, Andy learns that no one is who they seem to be, not her husband Max, not Emily…and she will have to decide whether to leave her life behind completely and start over, or stay in a life where she might never have a chance at true happiness.

Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns may feature Andy as a wife, mother, entrepreneur…it answers our question of what happened to her after she cursed out Miranda in Paris and left the job “a million girls would die for” at Runway, but at the same time, it’s nice to know that she hasn’t changed all that much, she’s still the same naïve woman that we empathized with ten years earlier.  I’m not sure if this needs to be turned into a series, but it would be nice if Revenge was optioned for a film…with the same case of course.