I like historical fiction well enough, but I also LOVE historical fiction that doesn’t take place in World War II, so when a friend recommended Park Avenue Summer to me, I was intrigued. This book, by Renee Rosen, takes place in 1965 NYC, the protagonist is a young Jewish woman growing into her own strength, the founding of the Cosmo we know today is on the horizon, and it’s just a fascinating book. Also very easily readable–in the best way. Each chapter seems to fall into itself and carry you through!
Alice Weiss leaves her hometown of Ohio for the big city, New York, set on making her way as a photographer. A family friend lands her a bit of a different job through, as the assistant to the new editor of Cosmopolitan, Helen Gurley Brown. Helen, known for her sex-positive feminism and her famous book, wants to revolutionize the magazine, but the higher-ups are begging for her to fail. Alice quickly finds her footing as Helen’s assistant, watching and learning as Helen attempts to upend the system, fight for “her girls” and make the magazine her own. Along the way, Alice, formerly engaged and living life without the guidance of her mother, is also finding her way: dinner and drinks and more with the company Don Juan, taken under the wing by a friendly photographer, and forced into adulthood in a new, exciting way.
I found this book just really enjoyable. It’s close-enough to modern times that it doesn’t feel “too” historical fiction-y, until you remember they can’t text, but I also liked visiting the 60s and NYC at this time. I love publishing/magazine drama, and this is like a different take on the Devil Wears Prada but the Devil isn’t a woman, you know what I mean? It’s an easy read, in the best ways. Not everything has to be hard. Even the “hard parts” of this story–about being betrayed by people and finding out secrets about your family–is handled very well.
Overall, I think this is a good book for people who like historical fiction but want something lighter, something new in terms of time, and something a bit more…feisty, when it comes to the feminism. I liked it a lot! A 4 star read for me!
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