Park Avenue Summer

Written by Renee Rosen
Review by Hilary Daninhirsch

Park Avenue Summer is a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of the iconic Cosmopolitan magazine and its equally iconic editor, Helen Gurley Brown. The novel is told through the eyes of Alice Weiss, a fictional young woman who comes to New York in 1965 with big dreams of becoming a photographer. She lands instead at Cosmopolitan, as Gurley Brown’s assistant, where she quickly develops a fierce loyalty to her boss. It is soon clear that someone is trying to sabotage the editor, while Alice is torn between her own dreams and loyalty to her boss.

Although Gurley Brown broke through many barriers and fought numerous battles to rise in the ranks in her profession, the author paints a different picture of the woman we have come to associate with feminism. While she was headstrong and unafraid to take bold risks with her magazine, she is portrayed as vulnerable and quite dependent upon her husband for emotional support. This all-too-human portrait of a strong, iconic historical figure removes a shroud of mystery about this formidable woman and transforms her into a likeable and relatable character.

The author pulls the reader into the ’60s period, reminiscent of the Mad Men era. This novel features strong heroines and intertwines a love story and a mystery, and most of all, heart. The storyline is fast-paced and utterly absorbing: a delight from start to finish.