“I find it so funny that you’re nervous about a woman editing a magazine for women.”
Alice Weiss leaves the Midwest for the Big Apple – chasing the same dream as her mother, to become a photographer in New York.
Her mother’s old best friend sets her up with a secretary job under Helen Gurley Brown – the first female editor of Cosmopolitian.
At first, everything is going aces for Alice.
It’s the 1960s and she’s in her mid-twenties, no strings and ready to branch out into the working world.
I’d arrived in New York about a week ago, and like the city, I was alive, filled with possibility and adventure.
Like a bucket of cold water, Alice quickly realizes that her job may not be as secure as she would have liked.
“I’d be surprised if Cosmopolitan is still being published in six months.”
Nearly everyone wants Helen to fail – every move she makes is dissected and used for office gossip.
How dare Helen (a woman!) think she knows what’s best? Doesn’t she realize that she needs to listen to the men in the office??
How dare Helen (the idiot!) refuse stable ads for diaper and hemorrhoid cream in favor of frivolous ones from makeup and hair companies? Doesn’t she respect the dignity of the magazine?
How dare Helen (the tart!) want to publish articles about how to look sexy or having no-strings sex? Does she have any morals?
How dare Helen (the absolute embarrassment) order writeups on birth control and menstrual health? Does she even have a clue what readers want to know?
And to all that, Helen has a single answer – yes. Yes she dares.
Cause there is nothing worse than not knowing – whether it be how to feel free and comfortable in your own body or about keeping you sexually healthy (in a time where this information is often completely censored from young “pure” women).
Helen has a vision, and by-god Alice will see it through.
I was blown away – I truly did not expect to enjoy this book so much!
I have read a few historical fiction novels in my time, and for the most part…yawn. Or possibly yawn-fest.
But Park Avenue Summer is wholly and completely the exception.
Picture The Devil Wears Prada (movie version, not the awful book) but instead of Andy whining, she’s actually doing things and making a difference. Great, isn’t it??
Helen and Alice were bright, bold and beautiful as main characters.
I loved the way Rosen took Helen, such an outwardly strong character, and made her human via crippling self-doubt and stroke-high levels of stress.
I loved the way Alice starts as a timid young girl – crushed from the loss of her boyfriend – and grows into the woman she is now.
“You really don’t want to fall in love, , do you?”
“…not if I can help it.”
And above all, I loved…well…everything. I am completely in love with this book – it is a fabulous feminist summer read!
With thanks to Berkley Publishing for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
All quotes come from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publication.