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Park Avenue Summer

Narrated by: Kathe Mazur, Renée Rosen
Length: 10 hrs and 42 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
3.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Summary

"Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada, which might as well be saying put me in your cart immediately.’" (PopSugar)

It’s 1965 and Cosmopolitan magazine’s 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 a job working for the first female editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Helen Gurley Brown. For Alice, who wants to be a photographer, it seems like the perfect foot in the door, but nothing could have prepared her for the world she enters. Editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous best seller 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, Alice struggles not to lose sight of her own dreams as she’s swept up into a glamorous world of five-star dinners, lavish parties, and men who are certainly no good. Because if Helen Gurley Brown has taught her anything, it’s that a woman can demand to have it all. 

©2019 Renée Rosen (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

“A delightful and empowering read.” (PopSugar)

"Renée Rosen is my go-to for whip-smart heroines who love their work. Park Avenue Summer is a delightful summer cocktail of a read!" (Kate Quinn, New York Times best-selling author of The Alice Network)

Part historical fiction, part coming-of-age story, this is a novel for our keeper shelves to read and re-read when we begin to doubt that there is still time to become the best version of ourselves.  Lovely prose, a unique storyline, and a heroine who will stay with you for a long time make this a book I highly recommend.” (Karen White, New York Times best-selling author)

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  • Caroline W.
  • 07-05-19

Interesting Take on 1960s NYC

“Park Avenue Summer” is really the story of Helen Gurley Brown, the pivotal first female editor of Cosmopolitan magazine and author of “Sex and the Single Girl”. Her story is told via Alice, her secretary and champion. While this is an interesting story, I think the narrative suffered from lack of focus. The author wanted it to the story of how Helen turned Cosmopolitan around from the brink of cancellation but this objective is covered up by Alice’s story which is infinitely more interesting. A good portion of the narrative drags as the same situations are repeated over and over again just with different circumstances. As a loyal fan of “Mad Men”, I caught many of the mid-century references which was cool. Helen reminded me of Joan from the TV—use your feminine wiles to get ahead. Though as Joan learned over the course of 7 seasons, it takes more than sex appeal to be taken seriously in a man’s world. Overall I enjoyed the book though I’m not sure if I would have finished it if I hadn’t been listening to the recorded version.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Happy Woman
  • 26-07-19

An empowering book for those seeking the courage to follow their dreams

This is a well written and well researched Book about a truly groundbreaking woman who fought to bring about a new image of youth women. During a time where society demonized young women or any women who had sex outside of marriage, and women were expected to find a man, get married and raise children and be happy with it, Helen Gurley brown fought to change societal views to give us more opportunities. She believed that we should be able to go out, enjoy sex before marriage or even without marriage, find our passions, have our own careers and our own money and not be demonized as harlots. This is a fictionalized story about the first few months when she took over Cosmopolitan and transformed it from a magazine focused on suburban housewives the one that advocated for single, divorced or widowed women in spite of objections from the more conservative men at the Hearst corporation who were her bosses.

It is also the story of a fictional young woman who works as an administrative assistant for her and must find the courage to pursue her own dreams.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Boots
  • 23-05-19

It’s Beach Read Season

And this is the perfect beach read! When I was a young girl, my dream was to move to NYC and become a secretary in a sky scraper in Manhattan. I was 17 years old, reading Seventeen magazine when HGB took over Cosmo. I visited NYC often during my college years, but never lived there. After I graduated and started a career, I eventually landed in Chicago (thanks to the “woman’s movement” and affirmative action - not as a secretary) and I became one of Helen’s girls ~ young, single, and career minded. Cosmo was a huge component of my coming of age. I stuck with it until the magazine was no longer relevant in my life. I’m retired now. Thanks for the flight of fancy down memory lane!

9 people found this helpful

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  • RueRue
  • 16-10-19

Success and the Single Girl

The narration elevated this book from very predictable romantic chick lit with a historical backdrop into an interesting story about the beginning of Cosmopolitan magazine as a guide to the modern single woman. I wish there had been more about this and Helen Gurley Brown and less of the lame romantic entanglements.

1 person found this helpful

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  • A. Smolinski
  • 22-07-19

surprising

I enjoyed this book so much! It was not at all what I expected. I thought it wouldbe a fluff story but ended up being about empowered and empowering women. The author and voice actor relayed the air of the time extremely well. I could feel the cosmopolitan nature of NYC. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in historical fiction about the 1960s, fashion, advertising, or coming of age type stories.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nita
  • 08-05-19

Enthralling!

I love everything that Renee Rosen writes! This book so beautifully captures Helen and Cosmos!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Olivia
  • 09-12-19

Kept my attention

This book surprised me I started to return it without listening but am glad I didn’t! This is a five star book for women!!!

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  • SSP
  • 14-10-19

Love this book

I absolutely loved this book!! I enjoyed every minute of it!! So sad when it ends!

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  • Michelle Novoa
  • 09-09-19

mindless light entertainment

Was hoping this was going to be more similar to City of Girls however it lacked the edginess, excitement, color and pace of City of Girls. This was just okay, passed the time.

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  • Lisa Harvey
  • 09-09-19

Fabulously Captivating!


A fabulously captivating read for anyone that has ever picked up an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

SUMMARY
Alice Weiss leaves her small Midwestern Ohio town to chase her big city dreams in New York City in 1965. Unexpectedly, she lands the job of a lifetime, working for the first female editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Helen Gurley Brown. Alice begins her job just as editors and writers are walking out the door refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. When a handsome executive tries to pull Allison into his game to sabotage her boss she is more determined than ever to help Helen succeed. Pressure mounts at the magazine as Helen must fight on every front to totally change the concept of Cosmo for “her girls.” As the battle over Cosmo rages Alice does not lose sight of her own dreams to become a photographer, as she is swept up in a glamorous world of five star dinners, lavish parties and men who are certainly up to no good. After all, if Helen taught her “pussycats” anything, it’s that a woman can demand to have it all.

REVIEW
PARK AVENUE SUMMER is simply delightful. The characters, the setting and the story all work together to transport us to New York City in 1965 and the start of an iconic magazine as we know it today. Alice’s character is spot on for a young twenty something in the Big Apple trying to live the life her mother had had to give up. Alice was scared but also brave and this mix of vulnerability as well strength made her come alive on the pages of PARK AVE SUMMER. My favorite part was when Alice took a firm stand and refused to sabotage HGB’s mission.

I loved the historical fiction aspect of the novel, but even more I appreciated the authors note at the end, detailing fact from fiction. As a Cosmo reader in the 70’s, reading about the magazine’s transformation was enlightening and made me appreciate it all the more. The writing was easy to read and flowed well. I listened to the audible book and found it totally entertaining and enjoyable. So glad I read this one!

Author Renée Rosen lives in Chicago and is a best selling author of historical fiction including: Windy City Blues, White Collar Girl, What the Lady Wants, and Dollface.

Publisher Berkley
Published April 30, 2019
Narrated Kathie Mazur, Renée Rosen