Emily Charlton, ex-assistant to legendary fashion editor Miranda Priestly, does not do the suburbs. She’s a successful stylist and image consultant to Hollywood’s stars but – thanks to the Snapchatting millennials stealing precious business – her career’s under threat. When Graham Hartwell, a senator with presidential ambitions, frames and publicly dumps her old friend Karolina, Emily winds up in Greenwich – with the client of a lifetime.
He couldn’t have known what’s coming. He’s reckoned without the wives…
The Wives was published as When Life Gives You Lululemons in America, and though I had no idea at the time I downloaded it from Netgalley, it’s a sequel to The Devil Wears Prada (though there has been another sequel in between). At first, when Miranda Priestly’s name was mentioned, I thought it was just inhabiting the same world as that book, but as I read on, it became clear that the Emily Charlton, one of the protagonists here, is the Emily that worked for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine.
I read The Devil Wears Prada way back when, and I don’t remember having a huge problem with it at the time. I also quite enjoyed the film, though it has been years since I saw it. This book picks up some years later; Emily is now working as a professional problem solver for various celebrity clients, and living in California, with her partner. The chapters alternate between her story, and that of two other women; Karolina, wife of an ambitious senator, and Miriam, a former New York City lawyer who has moved to the suburbs with her family. The women are linked by Miriam, who are friends with them both, and who brings them together when Karolina faces a crisis with her husband that Emily steps in to help solve.
The one major problem that I have with The Wives is not something that I can talk about in a review, because it would be a very late spoiler for the plot. I’ll just say that I don’t think the character of Emily is served particularly well, and I think that it would have been good for her to have been able to stand by her convictions in a stronger way that she ended up doing. Overall, I enjoyed the story well enough, though there’s absolutely no substance whatsoever beyond the searing insight into life in the US suburbs is a hotbed of plastic surgery, extra-marital sex, and far too much money. The link to The Devil Wears Prada comes in thick and fast by the end of the novel, meaning that we get to be around the hateful character of Miranda Priestly for a few pages.
I read it on a plane, and it was a perfectly enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, but as I look to diversify my reading habits, I have to say that the likes of this – a story about three white, rich women – won’t be troubling my TBR lists going forward.
The Wives by Lauren Weisberger (Published as When Life Gives You Lululemons elsewhere)
Publication Date: 12th July 2018
Provided by publisher via Netgalley