By: Renee Rosen
Published Year: 2019
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion.
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Mad 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.
What can I say. I’m a sucker for the historical fiction novels with a backwards woman on it. I know they are all the rage in historical fiction right now, and I love them. Needless to say, this book got me on the cover. Add in the fact that it was the story of the editor of the editor who created the magazine Cosmopolitan as we know it today and I was in.
What I thought
This book fascinated me!
Alice has just oved to New York City from Ohio and is an aspiring photographer. When she learns that it is going to be a lot harder to get a job as a new photographer than she originally thought, she accepts a position as the secretary to Helen Gurley Brown; the new editor of Cosmopolitan. Through Alice, we learn about the struggles that Helen goes through to turn Cosmo into the strong woman’s magazine that we all know and love.
Before I get into my review of this book, I have a fun fact to share. I told my mom about this book when I got it, not really knowing who Helen Gurley Brown was (I know, it’s sad). I had heard of Sex and the Single Girl, but didn’t know who the author was, let alone that the author went on to create Cosmo. When I told my mom her first comment was “You know your Grandfather dated her right?”
Mind blown guys. Apparently, my Grandfather briefly dated Helen Gurley Brown shortly after she moved to LA before she became who she did. In fact, she wrote about him in her book and every time she came on TV my Grandmother would snarkily call out “Dear, your girlfriend is on TV!” Like, I’m dying. This is hilarious.
Back to the story itself, I was fascinated by everything about this book. Knowing next to nothing about Helen Gurley Brown, I loved reading her story. I know this isn’t a biography, so a lot of this is fictionalized, but the author mentions that it is largely based on fact. I liked Alice as well and liked how Helen’s story was told through her perspective and not through Helen’s.
Alice’s story balanced out Helen’s very well. Like I said, this wasn’t a biography of Helen Gurley Brown, so it was nice to have a solid secondary story. Alice is finding herself as a newly independent woman in a big city. She is struggling to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. I also liked that while there was some drama, it wasn’t overly dramatic and she doesn’t get sucked into a lot of extra drama. I feel like Alice is what I would have been like in the 1960s if I had moved to New York. She has struggles, but she doesn’t suffer.
The story is quick paced and I enjoyed reading a historical fiction novel that wasn’t based around war. There are strong female characters and I greatly appreciated each of them. I also liked that NYC was a character in and of itself but in a way that it didn’t take over. I know that Rosen has written a lot of other historical fiction, and while I haven’t read any of her previous novels, this one has piqued my interest for sure. I look forward to going back and reading more of her novels.