Truth and Measure / Above All Things - Roslyn Sinclair
Quite possibly, there might be only be two groups of people who read ‘Truth and Measure’ and ‘Above All Things’ (the novels); those who read them and completely love them, and those who read them, and completely love them and then try very hard not to compare them to the original fanfic to see if the updates fit seamlessly into the story. Guess what? Spoiler. They do.
It doesn’t mean the legions of Telanu fans won’t scour the novels hoping to come across their favourite fanfic section, gesture or line. Because I bet they will. And when they do come across it, they’ll clutch the books to their chest and whisper, “She kept it in.”
I know I did. I emitted a joyful hum sort of noise when I came across my favourite line, AKA ‘The Hairbrush Return’. It’s a completely innocuous line but I love it.
‘Well, out of all the things she’d lost in London, including her hairbrush, her common sense, and her sanity, it was nice to get at least one of them back.’
Now, for those readers in group one, the story is based on the movie The Devil Wears Prada starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway and interprets the movie in a sort of Sliding Doors/What If This Happened? concept. In ‘Truth and Measure’ and ‘Above All Things’ (the novels), the MCs are super ice queen Vivian Carlisle who helms the internationally revered fashion publication Du Jour. She is ruthless, regimented, entirely frightening and thoroughly compelling. And unexpectedly pregnant. And in the middle of a messy divorce. And falling for her personal assistant. But ruthless and regimented, remember?
The other MC is Jules Moretti, Vivian’s uber competent PA. She can just about read Vivian’s mind, anticipating Vivian’s needs, mentally interpreting Vivian’s single word instructions into complex paragraphs so that every task is completed perfectly. Jules is also an aspiring writer and while she loHATESves working for Vivian, she’s constantly looking for the next chance at having her writing published. Meanwhile, her life is regimented because Vivian’s is. Her life is scheduled because Vivian’s is. Her life is…well, not her life. But strangely enough, Jules finds an inexplicable sense of happiness in the structure, the madness in the control, living inside the Vivian-ness of every minute of every day. But then chaos knocks on her door, her heart takes the wheel, and yells ‘buckle up baby’, and she finds that falling for her entirely frightening, thoroughly compelling, completely insufferable boss isn’t on her life’s agenda at all.
The novels are wonderful because the original fic is reworked with the care of someone who wanted to look after their own story and pay respect to their original work. And why not? Roslyn Sinclair gave necessary attention to the need for the new, the updated, the modern, the removal of characters who were now illogical and the subtle introduction of some who aren’t. But even better, Sinclair has infused even more humour into the story, writing wonderful scenes particularly when Vivian’s in full-flight, and all around her are Du Jour employees trying desperately to avoid eye-contact, or blend into the carpet, or nod obsequiously simply to appease the storm that is Vivian. Although that last one usually gets the person fired.
Through Jules’s POV, we’re given an insight into a few cracks in Vivian’s armour as Vivian herself can’t control her own storm. Life is getting away from her.
And because the story is told from Jules’s POV, it is fascinating to see how vulnerable Vivian becomes without us hearing her internal monologue. Sinclair gives us two well-rounded, three-dimensional, and very vulnerable characters, each with their own visible and logical arc without the need for alternate perspectives. It’s very good.
Now. The sex. Excuse me while I blink for a bit and attempt to calm my heart rate. Goodness me! No, that response is much too tame. Christ on a fucking clydesdale. There. Much better. The sex is exactly EXACTLY right for the development of the relationship. It’s exactly right for the arcs of Jules and Vivian, and each scene occurs in the story exactly when it should. And it’s not just the sex; it’s the teasing, the sensuality, the looks, the breathless yearning. It’s all of it. All of the unexpected chaos. Because the sex, the frantic desire, is what they need from each other. They are both strong, sensual women. And they act on it.
These novels could have very easily been an instruction manual on sex positions in a variety of rooms and on various surfaces. But they’re not. These two novels tell a story of navigating the intricacies of love. Yes, the sex is intense and raw but it allows for the walls and barriers and bandaids covering life’s hurt to be ripped off so that Jules and Vivian find each other and themselves. And each other in themselves. This love story is about seeing the details in the sweeping and the grand; recognising that if there is too much of that sweeping, then the details are brushed to the corner. Sinclair ensures that her MCs focus on the minutiae of the grand and the dust in the sweeping. She ensures that they develop their relationship as something to be held, and not dissolve through lack of substance.
The majority of the relationship development occurs in ‘Above All Things’. It’s where the foundations are laid, which seems illogical since it’s the second book to the story. But that’s how love grows, doesn’t it? The initial gasp of lust where common sense grabs a passport and flies to Tahiti. That’s the frantic, the intense, and the breathless. And therefore book one; ‘Truth and Measure’. Then the foundation blooms; the what-if, the why-now, the how-will, the when-can? And those questions are asked and answered in ‘Above All Things’.
The original fanfic came to a total of eleventy-billion brilliant words and I’d wondered how the story was going to be carefully and elegantly smooshed into around two-hundred thousand (book one and book two combined). But Sinclair did it. I love the updates. But I love even more that people are going to come to this novel with no idea who Telanu is or what the Devil Wears Prada is or even what Prada is. Because those people, the group one folk, they’ll love ‘Truth and Measure’ and ‘Above All Things’ (the novels) because the story is awesome and funny and sexy and sensible…well, not sensible where Vivian and Jules are concerned. But it’s wonderful.
And the group two folk, their backpacks full of eleventy-billion words from the ‘Truth and Measure’ fanfic? They’ll love this novel simply because it isn’t ‘Truth and Measure’ fanfic; it’s ‘Truth and Measure' and ‘Above All Things’ (the novels) and it’s very good.