The Times-Were-a-Changing and “Cosmo” took the Lead


Written by: Renée Rosen
Read by: Kathe Mazur & Renée Rosen
10 Hours and 43 Minutes
PRHA | Imprint: Penguin Audio
Genre: Fiction – Historical
Release Date: April 30, 2019

I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


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.


My Take Oblong Shaped


If you grew up boy crazy in the 1960s and 1970s for whom Cosmopolitan was the edgy monthly magazine that gave  sexy horoscopes, sex tips, eating to stay thin information (I still remember “Eschew Sugar” and eat oysters).  And, those covers with the cleavage!   Cosmo made sex okay; it made having dreams okay, and it made me okay. 

This well-narrated book, which I felt was delivered with the distance of retrospection, offers the story of Alice’s coming of age, developing calluses on her soul, learning the magazine business, photography, about genuine and fake people, and becoming the right hand of a woman with a vision for Cosmo.  And it was a coming of age period for women too as we were allowed more leeway in life and careers. I was happy to learn so much about the background of the magazine  and the Hearst corporation.  I was sad to hear about how Helen Gurley Brown (HGB) ate, basically, coffee and lettuce.

The characters and story really caught my interest.  My personal connection was also part of what grabbed me. The author had done her research. The only thing I found hard to believe, was the timeline.  It seemed to be a longer period of time than described.

A young woman from the middle west in 1965 would have been as naive about what it takes to be a photographer in the real world, but Alice was lucky enough to have a really good contact in NYC.  It’s actually what makes her life in NY possible.  It would have been so exciting to be part of that magazine as HGB took it on and made so many changes, almost not compromising at all.  Her ideas would have been shocking to the entitled men in the corporate office, (the same problem women have now) and I believe America wanted to be shocked.  I remember in 1971 or so when they offered a centerfold of a nude Burt Reynolds with his arm strategically positioned.

Alice’s  coming of age means learning more about grief than she already had learned, learning family secrets she should have learned years before, and finding out what she really already knows about good guys and bad guys. And she learns that opportunity can knock more than  once  but that you have to answer the door!


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