In 1965 Helen Gurley Brown was hired to transform Cosmopolitan magazine. The story is told from the perspective of Alice, her young assistant, and shows the difficulties Helen faced when trying to change the opinion of others, especially men. Helen was forward-thinking and ahead of her time, especially concerning the sexuality of women. Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen   #Historical fiction, #reading, #books to read, #books

Park Avenue Summer

By Renee Rosen

Reviewed by- Linda (June 2019)

Book Review:

An entertaining and very atmospheric book, Renee Rosen takes the reader back to 1965 and paints a beautiful picture of life in New York City at the time. The story is about Alice, a young girl from Ohio trying to make her way in this city, but it is every bit as much about Helen Gurley Brown, and in fact, this facet of the story is the more fascinating.

Helen Gurley Brown, determined, forward-thinking, and impressive in every way, is driven by her vision for a better world for women, especially sexually. This is a fun read but also inspiring story. Helen was controversial, and it was a man's world in 1965. An entertaining combination.


Book Club Talking Points:

There are some poignant life lessons in this story. The fact that sometimes we have to let go in life and allow life to happen is just one. The story focuses on family drama through Susan's complex relationship with her brother. There's also lots to discuss about human vulnerability and creating barriers for protection.
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*Discussion Questions



1. Do you think Helen Gurley Brown was a feminist? How do you think her brand of feminism compared to Betty Friedan’s or Gloria Steinem’s?

2. What did you think of Helen’s advice to Alice regarding her Don Juan? Do you agree that Don Juans are unavoidable and that everyone woman has that one man she can’t say “no” to?

3. Speaking of Alice’s Don Juan, did you understand why she got involved with Erik? Were you sympathetic to her situation or did you want her to break it off with him sooner? Or not enter into it at all?

4. Under Helen Gurley Brown’s leadership, Cosmopolitan became a groundbreaking magazine for women and inspired many copycat publications. Were you a Cosmo reader? And if so, what do you remember most about that magazine? What other magazines did you read growing up?

5. Can you define today’s Cosmo Girl? How has she evolved through the years?

6. When it comes to iconic female magazine editors, the two biggest names are probably Helen Gurley Brown and Anna Wintour. How do you think these two women are similar? How are they different?

7. In the book, Alice looks to both Helen Gurley Brown and Elaine Sloan as role models and mentors. How important do you think it was for a young woman back then to have that kind of guidance? And do you think it’s still important in today’s world?

8. In today’s digital age we’ve seen the decline of physical magazines. How do you feel about publications moving from newsstands to the Internet? Do you miss reading them physically?

9. If you’d been put in Ali’s position, would youhave told Helen that members of the Hearst staff were sabotaging her? How do you think you would have handled that sort of predicament?

10. What prominent themes can you find in Park Avenue Summer? Do you think any of them are still relevant in today’s world?

11. Alice, like so many people throughout history, moved to New York City to pursue her dream. Certainly, there are easier and more affordable places to live and yet Manhattan’s draw proves irresistible to some. Why do you think that is?

12. How did you feel about the ending of the book and were you surprised to learn where Ali ended up?

(Discussion Questions by Publisher)


Book 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 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, 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
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