2019: One of the best novels I read in 2018 was Renèe Rosen’s Windy City Blues, in which she told the story of Chicago’s legendary Chess Records through the eyes of a fictionalized young woman who worked at the nascent blues and rock ‘n’ roll label. And even though she never existed in reality, you couldn’t help but come away from reading the book feeling like she was flesh and blood. I had the same experience with Rosen’s latest book, Park Avenue Summer.
Once again, the author delivers up a slice of actual history by taking us through it in the persona of a young woman, named Alice Weiss. This time, Rosen takes her readers back in time to the moment in 1965 when Cosmopolitan magazine is on the verge of shutting down, only to be saved against all logic by an inexperienced new editor named Helen Gurley Brown, best known as the controversial and provocative author of Sex and the Single Girl. Rosen’s portrayal of Brown is incredible, as is her ability to capture an era that most of us know best through the eyes of TV’s Don Draper in “Mad Men.” If you ever watched that show, flip it on its ass and imagine it’s the magazine industry, instead of advertising, and that you’re seeing the start of the Swinging ‘60s and the sexual revolution through the eyes of women, not men. I can’t wait to find out what the author has planned for us next!
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