Park Avenue Summer
In 1965, Helen Gurley Brown takes the helm as editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, forever changing the face of women's magazines. "Her girls" don't want to read about cleaning products; they want to read about beauty, sex, relationships, and their own bodies.
This fictional look at her first year as editor places Alice Weiss as Gurley Brown's assistance. While most of us are poised to think of New York magazine editors in the vein of frosty, difficult Anna Wintour (or her fictional alter-ego, Miranda Priestly), Gurley Brown was a different personality. Driven, determined, but also fragile and sentimental, she was a complicated figure who had a vision, and she fought hard for it.
Alice's story, alongside Gurley Brown's, is just as juicy and entertaining as the real-life drama. Park Avenue Summer was light and fun, with touches of feminist discussion without getting too heavy-handed (Gurley Brown is sometimes pitted against Betty Friedan and other feminist women of the era, but she sees herself as offering women her own brand of liberation.). This would be a fantastic summer beach read.
This post may include affiliate links. That means if you click and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Please see Disclosures for more information.
Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada as Renée Rosen draws readers into the glamorous New York City of 1965 and Cosmopolitan magazine, where a brazen new editor-in-chief–Helen Gurley Brown–shocks America and saves a dying publication by daring to talk to women about all things off-limits…
New York City is filled with opportunities for single girls like Alice Weiss, who leaves her small midwestern town to chase her big-city dreams and unexpectedly lands the job of a lifetime working for the first female editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Helen Gurley Brown.
Nothing could have prepared Alice for the world she enters as editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller Sex and the Single Girl, and confidential memos, article ideas, and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands. When someone tries to pull Alice into a scheme to sabotage her boss, she is more determined than ever to help Helen succeed. While pressure mounts at the magazine and Alice struggles to make her way in New York, she quickly learns that in Helen Gurley Brown’s world, a woman can demand to have it all.