Last Thursday, Greenwich fans gathered for coffee and conversation on the outdoor patio at the J House Hotel, as Lauren Weisberger, The New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada, shared insights from her new book, When Life Gives You Lululemons, which takes place in Greenwich.
Weisberger, currently the author of seven novels, including, The Singles Game and, Chasing Harry Winston, shot to critical acclaim when she was just 25 years old with, her debut novel, The Devil Wears Prada, largely based on her experience working at Vogue magazine, her first job out of college.
The Devil Wears Prada, which spent six months on the The New York Times Best Seller List, was adapted, in 2006, into the much-revered film starring Meryl Streep and Anna Hathaway. The film has generated $326 million worldwide.
The packed event, which left some guests with standing room only, was hosted by UJA-JCC Greenwich and was moderated by Greenwich resident and fellow writer, Daisy Florin, who posed poignant questions on the book’s central themes, often intertwined with Weisberger’s life experiences.
In When Life Gives You Lululemons, readers re-connect with The Devil Wears Prada’s character Emily Charlton (Miranda Priestly’s first assistant played by Emily Blunt in the film), by fast-forwarding ten years to Emily, now a successful image consultant in her mid-30’s, living in Greenwich.
Joined by two other main female characters, Carolina, a former supermodel married to a senator with presidential ambitions, and Miriam, a Harvard-educated lawyer who leaves her NYC law firm to move to the burbs to spend more time with her family.
The climax occurs when Carolina is wrongly accused of something awful and Emily comes to her defense.
The New York Times bestselling author Lauren Weisberger and moderator Daisy Florin discuss her new book,
When Life Gives You Lululemons at the J House Hotel. (Michelle Moskowitz photo)
“One of the main themes of this book, certainly unlike in ‘Prada,’ is female friendship,” said Weisberger. “We pick up with Emily, as we certainly didn’t see a lot of her being a great friend to anyone. I was left wondering, what does her life look like ten years later and what about her girlfriends,” said Weisberger.
“I loved the idea of exploring how these women came together – now that they have spouses and children, but at the heart of this book was their relationships with each other,” she added.
While the theme of the book vastly centers on the importance of friendship, Weisberger also explores that “next chapter in life” that so many women encounter when migrating from their fast-paced lives in the city to that of suburban family life.
“I had my own fear and curiosity about what it was going to be like to live in the suburbs, but I imagine my town, just like this one is filled with incredibly dynamic, interesting women doing all sorts of different things,” said Weisberger, who moved to Fairfield county four years ago after living in NYC for 17 years. “I love it here; I love raising my kids here and the people I’ve met.”
The author said she chose Greenwich as the backdrop for When Life Gives You Lululemons because “everyone knows Greenwich as a well-to-do suburb close to New York City.”
She also has several friends in the community and a very close friend who grew up here whom she often called upon for fact checking.
“Underneath the shiny surface, both ‘Lululemons,’ and ‘Prada’ are exploring what it’s like to be a woman buffeted by conflicting messages about career, relationships and motherhood,” wrote Lisa Scottoline of The Washington Post.
Another character from The Devil Wears Prada to make a cameo appearance in the book is Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep’s character in the film).
“I can’t give too much away, but she was particularly delightful to write in that scene because I spent a lot of time with other characters from ‘Prada’ thinking how they have grown and will readers still connect with them,” said Weisberger.
“But Miranda didn’t change at all and is exactly as hideous as she once was, but she steps in and does exert a certain power in her special Miranda way.”
Florin inquired as to the The Devil Wears Prada’s cult-like following fifteen years later and the reasoning behind its continued popularity.
With a wide grin, Weisberger replied, “I can answer that one pretty easily. What it was, was the movie,” said Weisberger, which drew a huge chuckle from the crowd.
“Everyone has had a bad boss and there is something about being able to relate to that first job out of college when you’re just starting out.”
Throughout the discussion, Weisberger reflected on her unexpected path to becoming a celebrated author.
After her stint at Vogue, Weisberger went to work for Departures Magazine where her editor told her she was “continually injecting herself into her travel pieces” and strongly encouraged Weisberger to pursue her creative writing talent by taking a writing workshop at night, and, fortunately, she did.
After one year of diligent writing, she had enough material for a book.
She subsequently submitted her work to an agent she casually knew who told her, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”
The agent sold the book one week later.
“It was a fairytale beginning, which allowed me this incredible opportunity,” said Weisberger.
One audience member asked how the successful author and mother of two manages the work/life balance – a critical topic that Weisberger said she often discusses with her female family members and friends.
Before motherhood, she would often write when the inspiration hit, but now Weisberger said she works around her children’s schedule (including carpooling) – which works out pretty well now that she has gotten used to it.
“Now I work as much as I can in my office (until the kids are home from school) and then my work day is over when the bus comes.”
Weisberger announced to fans that plans are currently underway to bring The Devil Wears Prada to the Broadway stage and that Elton John is creating the musical score.
“It [the show] reads so well, and they have the most amazing writers and lyricists,” said Weisberger who said she will have much more input in the Broadway production than she was granted in the film.
Another audience member inquired as to how much of Weisberger’s own life is represented in her novels.
“Quite a lot, probably like any writer, people tend to write what they know and look to their own lives for inspiration.”
Visit laurenweisberger.com for more information.