Everyone knows the name Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmopolitan’s famous Editor-in-Chief and the inspiration for fictional NYC women like Carrie Bradshaw, Peggy Olson, and Hannah Horvath. A new novel set in 1960s New York sheds light on the surprisingly tumultuous beginning of Gurley Brown’s 32-year reign at Cosmo, including how she kept the lights on at the magazine even as she was railroaded by Hearst executives.
When Gurley Brown took the reins in 1965, she was best known as the author of the controversial Sex and the Single Girl, and was viewed as an unbecoming choice to lead a magazine with a rich literary history. But the changes she brought—from sexy covers featuring young women to grabby headlines that were the precursor to clickbait—turned Como’s fortunes around and revolutionized women’s magazines.
The story of those early months is told through the eyes of Gurley Brown’s fictional assistant, in Renee Rosen’s historical novel PARK AVENUE SUMMER (April 30, 2019). Informed by Rosen’s extensive research—including interviews with Lois Cahall, who considered Helen her second mother—the novel contains irresistible details only those closest to Helen would know.
ABOUTMad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada as Renée Rosen draws readers into the glamour of 1965 New York City and Cosmopolitan Magazine, where a brazen new Editor-in-Chief--Helen Gurley Brown--shocks America 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 Helen Gurley Brown, the first female Editor-in-Chief of a then failing Cosmopolitan Magazine.
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. While confidential memos, article ideas, and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands, someone tries to pull Alice into this scheme to sabotage her boss. But Alice remains loyal and becomes all the more determined to help Helen succeed. As 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.
· How Hearst executives tried to railroad Helen’s vision for the magazine, and how she overcame them
· How the idea for Sex and the Single Girl actually came from Helen’s husband, David Brown, after they were married.
· The truth about the infamous “nooners” Helen took with her husband: cab rides through Central Park where they strategized about the magazine
· The truth about the “bosom memo” Helen sent to female staff
· The incredible influencers that were in Helen’s orbit: from then little-known writers like Nora Ephron and Judith Krantz, whom she hired; to celebrities in their own right like Hugh Hefner, Liz Smith, Lauren Bacall, Gloria Vanderbilt and Barbara Walters, among others