This week, you lucky people, I am reviewing two books at once. Mainly because their premise is similar – a woman in her twenties progressing her career working for a fashion magazine, but manages to completely mess up every other aspect of her life in the meantime – a familiar concept, but in other ways the books are completely different.
I bought I Heart Paris by Lindsey Kelk on my Kindle because I am a self-confessed Francophile (Charles Dickens was too, so don’t judge me too harshly), so the thought of a novel based in Paris was enticing.
The main character, Angela, writes a blog for a teen magazine in New York, herself being British, and gets asked by the big boss to write an article on the indie, must-know parts of Paris for the big fashion magazine ‘Belle’. Perfect. However, chaos ensues as one accident happens after another and her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend turns up on the scene, making Angela melt into a relatable but self-conscious and anxious mess.
The story is entertaining, the characters are likeable, and I read the whole lot very quickly, but that being said, don’t expect a lot from this novel. The characters are not very deeply developed and often Angela’s accident prone nature is more annoying than endearing, making you wish she would just ‘get a grip’; not to mention the ‘twist’ is predictable. However, this does not mean I didn’t like it, because I did. It’s perfect for a quick and easy read.
I came to read Devil Wears Prada because I Heart Paris refers to it explicitly as the founder of the magazine-fashion-bitch stereotype (that Kelk overly relies on) and, having seen the film but not read the novel, I decided to compare the differences and it’s easy to say that what I Heart Paris fails to do Devil Wears Prada does expertly well. The character development is good, perhaps because the novel spans almost 12 months rather than only 2 weeks, it means you see the gradual changes Andrea’s job inflicts on the relationships and attitudes of those around her (and herself). She is sucked into the glitz and glam, the bitchiness and the obsession with body image, but most of all into the all-consuming servitude to powerhouse that is Miranda Priestly.
In comparison to I Heart Paris the comedy in the novel is infinitely more sophisticated and, in my opinion, more successful. Despite the frustrations and predictable downfall of all Andrea’s relationships, the book is very light-hearted. There are differences in the novel to the film – Andrea is blonde for one, Anne Hathaway is not, but other differences are bigger – this makes the novel worth reading even if you’ve seen the film.
I was enchanted by the story, the glamorous nature of New York and the designer names. There is something about the story that feels very real – perhaps because the author Lauren Weisberger pulls on her own experiences as a fashion assistant to create the realistic atmosphere. It is not a difficult book to read and is not an emotional novel like The Snow Child but it has a lot of merit. I preferred it to I Heart Paris but if fashion, drama and comedy are your thing, either of these novels will satisfy your needs.