Don’t panic, but Miranda Priestly is back. Almost a decade after The Devil Wears Prada became a national bestseller and the basis for a movie starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, author Lauren Weisberger has just come out with a sequel: Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns.
In today’s publishing world, it’s not such a common thing for a sequel to be published long after the original; it takes a book as popular and successful as The Devil Wears Prada to really pull it off. Publishers tend to assume that readers have short memories and won’t return to a series that hasn’t been on their minds in years. Though I am often skeptical that's the case (a good marketing campaign can accomplish just about anything, after all), this book makes me wonder if maybe they have a point. After all, I was a big fan of the first book and subsequent movie, but I have a lot of reservations about this book, so much so that I haven’t even ordered it off Amazon yet. Why?
Perhaps in this case the problem isn’t that I’ve forgotten the story or the characters; instead, enough time has gone by that my ideas about them are fixed. We weren’t expecting a sequel, after all. Whether you prefer the ending in the book or the ending in the movie, the story, in fact, ended. After so many years, it’s tricky to go back and pick it up again. What if my ideas about Andy’s future turn out to be all wrong? What if the new novel contradicts everything I thought I knew about the first?
In some ways, the sequel might have some wiggle room on that point; the new novel takes places ten years after the events of the first. All is going well for our protagonist, but then Andy’s life is once more invaded by the stylishly evil Miranda Priestly. Maybe allowing that time to have passed will help us readers keep our ideas of who the characters are; if they seem a little different than we remember, it’s because they’ve changed in the past decade, not because we were wrong about them all along. Our memories safe, maybe it’s okay to move on?
And yet: I liked the way the Devil Wears Prada ended. Even though I loved Miranda’s character (especially as brought to life by the ever-delightful Meryl Streep), I was happy that she and Andy would go their separate ways. Working for Miranda helped Andy to grow, but her true coming of age moment was the moment she quit. It was fitting, in my mind, that the two would never see each other again. They were two strong, independent women who respected each other and who knew their time together had come to a close. They went their separate ways, as they should, and their story together was done. I worry that trying to give their story a ‘Part 2’ will feel gimmicky or unrealistic.
On the other hand, maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe the new book will be just as delightful as the first. I could be missing out on something great. After all, portrayals of powerful women always seem to be in too short supply. Passing one up just because I liked its prequel so much does sound a little silly.
So do I dare give Revenge Wears Prada a read? Yes? No? Maybe I’ll just put off deciding for a few hours and re-watch the movie.