Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Authors
Books
Features
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

See more online stores - Cosmopolitan Girls

Buy now from Random House

See more online stores - Cosmopolitan Girls

Cosmopolitan Girls

    Select a Format:
  • Book
  • eBook

A Novel

Written by Charlotte BurleyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Charlotte Burley and Lyah Beth LeFloreAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Lyah Beth LeFlore

eBook

List Price: $8.99

eBook

On Sale: December 18, 2007
Pages: 272 | ISBN: 978-0-307-41892-0
Published by : Broadway Books Crown/Archetype
Cosmopolitan Girls Cover

Bookmark,
Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Cosmopolitan Girls
  • Email this page - Cosmopolitan Girls
  • Print this page - Cosmopolitan Girls
ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

What happens when two small-town girls’ lives collide in the Big Apple? Meet Lindsay and Charlie. Two smart and fabulous African American single girls who work hard and play hard, only to find their careers and love lives taking tragicomic turns.

Lindsay, a successful television executive, makes the “A” list for the hottest events in New York City. Charlie is devoted to the dream of becoming a screenwriter, and happily in love with her fiancé. And while Lindsay’s heart belongs to a handsome, high-powered video director, Charlie’s fiancé offers stability and family life – two kids from a previous relationship. When they meet it’s the classic case of each one thinking the other’s grass is greener. But the romance of Gotham starts to fade as reality shakes up both women’s worlds. They discover they are two sides of the same coin.

Funny, sweet, and endlessly charming, Cosmopolitan Girls is a winning concoction that will resonate with women everywhere.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Lindsay Bradley

The invite in fancy gold script read, Lindsay Bradley you are cordially invited to Vogue magazine's after party for the VH1 Fashion Awards at Lotus. Lotus was one of the hottest clubs in New York City, and reason enough to flex my VP status and slip out of the office by seven. For me, that was like working a half day.

I zipped my candy-apple-red BMW 325I out of the parking garage onto Forty-fourth and Broadway. I called her my "baby," because I'd sacrificed and gone on a serious spending diet to come up with the down payment. Even though I almost died eating frozen dinners for all those months, Baby was my first new car. It felt good to work hard and have something to show for it.

Driving in Manhattan I'd become a master behind the wheel, using quick reflexes to switch in and out of lanes with exact precision and obnoxiously blowing my horn to make the car in front of me get the hell out of the way. This was New York style!

I hit the West Side Highway headed Uptown, pressed power on the radio, and popped the sunroof open, catching a whiff of the Hudson River. Midtown's flashing lights and skyscraping buildings faded into the distance. In no time, I was pulling into the garage across from my building on 122nd.

I lived in a refurbished three-story prewar walk-up. Harlem was the happening place to live. I was a lucky girl! The apartment listing had been hidden in the back of the Village Voice so well it almost blended in with the rest of the tiny print, proving you had to be both diligent and desperate to find a great apartment for a decent price in this city.

I heard a loud voice coming toward me. It was Maria, my super Tito's wife. That woman knows she can run her mouth.

"Callate la boca!" Maria screamed down the hallway to Tito, who was still in their apartment.

Too late. "Ay dios mios!" she muttered, heading right in my direction. I double-timed it up the steps. I had exactly one hour to transform myself into "fly Lindsay" and be ready to roll with my girls Tara and Judy.

"Hey, mami?" Maria said from the bottom of the steps with her hands on her hips.

"Hey Maria!" I called out, narrowly escaping her evening drama.

She was wearing fuzzy flip-flops and a velour two-piece, but had a little too much baby fat for her Baby Phat, if you know what I mean. Her hair was pulled up in a big blond ponytail, perched on top of her head like a bright bird ready to take flight.

" 'Bye Maria!" I called, cutting her off nicely as I closed the door to my apartment.

Once inside, the scent of Illume vanilla and pomegranate candles fragranced the air. I inhaled, exhaled, and pressed play on the stereo. Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" jump-started the night. My home was like sacred ground to me. My apartment's shabby-chic flair made it both comfortable and practical. On weekends I took full advantage, lounging on the two large down-filled couches in my living room. A small wrought-iron table, surrounded by four chairs draped in ivory slipcovers, sat off to the side. It was obvious, by the thin layer of dust on the glass top, that I rarely dined there. I was especially proud of the black-and-white stills of my grandparents and great-grandparents that adorned the walls.

I checked my answering machine. Lindsay, you were in my thoughts, be prayerful, be positive, relax, and may God's light of protection surround you. Mama left another one of her signature inspirational messages--it was just her subtle reminder for me to find a church home. I'd promised myself I'd find one as soon as work eased up. In the meantime, I compromised and purchased a book of daily affirmations.

I undressed and jetted into the hallway, opening the closet that housed my party digs. I pulled out a black Michael Kors dress with a plunging neckline. Yeah, this was the one!

Doing my makeup was always a quick job, applying a good moisturizer, lip gloss, and brow powder. Simple was safe, same with the hair--long hair was my trademark and I kept a low-maintenance blunt cut. Finally, I was ready to complete my transformation into "fly Lindsay." I quickly abandoned the small diamond studs and classic stainless steel Rolex that marked my "professional" look, and pulled out a pair of large rhinestone hoops and a matching choker.



Tara and Judy pulled up right on time.

"Lin Lin!" Tara exclaimed in a high-pitched nasally voice. I hated the nickname she started using out of the blue. But I loved her too much to tell her to stop.

"I like! I like!" I said, checking out her new XJ5. It still smelled fresh off the assembly line.

Tara was wearing her usual midriff. I'd kill for her abs! When she hit thirty, two years ago, she became a fitness fanatic, and now she never misses an opportunity to show some skin.

"On time for a change!" Judy started blabbering away as usual. If you looked up drama in the dictionary a picture of Judy would be there. Judy truly believed that a person had no excuse to be unattractive. Hair extensions, breast implants, and tummy tucks weren't just for the famous, and she had experimented with them all. The one thing she left unchanged was her face. Judy was a natural cutie.

Tara is an ad exec at a big firm, and Judy's a publicist for many of the popular hip-hop artists. They're both East Coast born and bred and I'm a Midwesterner, but living in New York for the past five years, I've almost earned my honorary New Yorker status.



The line in front of Lotus was halfway down the block, but the doorman knew us and ushered us quickly past the infamous velvet rope. Inside, A-list celebrities paraded before us: Pink, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, and Robert De Niro. We went straight to the bar that ran the length of the narrow club and ordered a round of Cosmopolitans.

"We'll have three Cosmos, and please, no house vodka. Absolut Citron, light on the cranberry and lime juice," I said, giving a friendly wink to the female bartender, who looked fresh off a Paris runway.

"You'll have to excuse her, she thinks she's some kind of Cosmo connoisseur," Judy shouted over the music.

"I like the sound of that! See, I just know the difference between a so-so Cosmopolitan and a great one, and I only drink great ones."

The bartender shook the cocktail shaker to the beat of an infectious bass line, then gingerly poured a frothy pink liquid into three chilled martini glasses.

"See if this suits your palate," the bartender said, winking back at me.

"Perfecto!" I said, giving her my approval. "You got skills, and I will be back."

I gave the bartender a high-five as Judy, Tara, and I grabbed our drinks and moved past partygoers dressed in the latest haute couture. Some people just stood bobbing their heads, others posed on low ottomans like they were in a Vogue layout.

We pushed our way into the narrow, overcrowded VIP area, behind yet another velvet rope. I immediately noticed a pair of eyes I'd seen once before. They were greenish-gray and hypnotic.

"Lindsay? Whassup? It's Troy. We met a while ago through my boy Randy Lanier," he said, helping me into a booth, trying his best to talk over the bass.

"Oh right! I think I remember. It's good to see you again."

Despite my reply, I knew exactly who he was and remembered every detail of the night I met him: Randy's birthday dinner at Jezebel and we flirted with each other all night. I even remember what he had on: a black turtleneck, black slacks, and a Cartier Tank watch. Just what I liked, simple, stylish, classy, and chivalrous--he even helped me with my coat at the end of the night. I was sure I'd never see him again since he lived in the Bay Area. What was Troy doing in New York now?

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Judy burst in between us grabbing me by the arm.

I was out of breath when we finally stopped in front of the ladies' room. "Forget that man. I'm trying to get us to the powder room. Tara and I have a surprise!" Judy said. I was pissed, this better be good. "What hot actress have you been talking about starring in your new series?" she asked. There was only one person she could be talking about. Alix Alexander. Latest Bond chick, and soon-to-be costar in Will Smith's new movie. I was dying to work with her.

We walked into the cramped bathroom. The ladies' room was a subculture in and of itself. Even though we go there to "freshen up," we made sure we did a once-over adjustment to look good before going in. It's all about making an entrance.

The room was buzzing with women searching for everything from hairbrushes to breath mints. Tara was already inside at the mirror putting on lipstick. Another woman, standing next to her, turned around. It was Alix. She was giving me major attitude, looking me up and down.

"Alix, this is our girl Lindsay," Tara said, signaling I was cool.

"Hey, Lindsay. It's really good to meet you." Alix's look quickly went from cold to warm. I had to give her her props. She could dress her ass off and her hair was always slammin'. I joined them at the mirror, opened my purse, and began rummaging through it, looking for my Mac lip glass. The other women were hanging around and checking us out. I could hear the whispers and feel the catty looks.

As I applied my lip liner and lip glass, from the corner of my eye I noticed we were the topic of a trio's conversation.

"Isn't that Alix Alexander?" the short one asked, popping her gum.

"Yep, but she ain't that pretty in person," her friend added, in a nasally voice.

"I heard she's sleeping with Vin Diesel and 50 Cent!" the tallest one said, out the side of her mouth.

I turned toward them. The tallest one knew I had heard their entire conversation. "Ooh, girl, you are working those shoes." She pointed to my feet, giving me a phony smile.

"Thanks," I returned, equally artificial, as the women quickly walked out the door.

In the mirror's reflection I saw a woman trying to calm down her girlfriend who was crying hysterically. Her eye makeup had smeared like melted licorice all over her face, and her hair looked like a powder puff.

"Oh my God, can you believe he came with her? I'm gonna fuck both of them up! How does my hair look?"

"It looks great!" her friend said, patting the woman's hair unsuccessfully before giving up and walking over to the sink.

"Excuse me," she said, stepping between Alix and me, taking a paper towel and wetting it, and returning to the weeping friend. "You can't let him see you like this," she said, giving her a pep talk as they exited.

A tipsy woman, doing a nail-biting balancing act in three-inch heels, was near the door arguing with the West Indian bathroom attendant after trying to skip out on a tip.

"All I got was a paper towel and a spritz of perfume."

"You got four sticks of gum, too."

"Urgh!" she said, tossing two dollars into the tip basket and teetering out the door.

Suddenly, everyone's attention shifted to a woman whose weak stomach was proof she'd had too much to drink. She rushed into a nearby stall and spent the next several minutes communing with the porcelain god.

Just then another woman who I didn't recognize entered and joined us. She and Alix hugged.

"This is my girl Camille, everybody," Alix said. Camille looked like a waif model without the height. Before we could get the cordials out, Alix called, "That's the jam!" Hearing the funky beat from the next room, Camille headed for the door, reaching for Alix's hand. Alix grabbed my hand, and without saying a word, we all stepped out of the ladies' room, dancing and bobbing our heads to the music.
Lyah Beth LeFlore|Author Q&A

About Lyah Beth LeFlore

Lyah Beth LeFlore - Cosmopolitan Girls

Photo © Jeffrey Hensonscal

LYAH BETH LEFLORE is the author of the Essence bestseller Last Night a DJ Saved My Life and the national bestseller I Got Your Back. She is a former television producer who has been profiled in the New York Times, Essence, Ebony, and Entertainment Weekly.

Author Q&A

In conversation with Charlotte Burley and Lyah LeFlore:

Black Ink: How did you become a writing team?

Charlotte Burley: Lyah and I were a writer-producer team in the beginning. Lyah optioned my first screenplay. In the process of trying to get the film produced, there were lots of late-night meetings and long lunches. One afternoon after a meeting, we met up with two other girlfriends for a late lunch and cocktails. Over drinks we began to share each of our personal “male” dramas. We found the afternoon so enlightening and therapeutic that we decided our session should be put in book form.

Lyah LeFlore: Absoutely! That afternoon of Cosmopolitans and Conversation sparked the start of something great! We felt it was high time the story of the single, never-been-married, thirty-something African American woman be told by two women who had been in the trenches and survived. More important, as African American women who were small-town girls who moved to New York City in our early twenties, we knew we could give the writing an even bigger spin.

BI: And how did you write the novel together?

CB: Since Lyah lives in L.A. and I live in New Jersey, we had to use just about every means of communication to complete the book. We had meetings by phone, exchanged lots of E-mail attachments, faxed, and when the manuscript got too big, we began shipping the printed pages or the disks to each other via FedEx.

LL: I think we actually have stock in FedEx now! It was great and the creation of our partnership is quite unique. Conceptually, we decided before we ever put pen to paper exactly who the “Cosmopolitan Girls” were. We created each lead protagonist initially in dialogue. I had been keeping a journal for years of my personal life experiences from the time I graduated college and came to New York City. Lindsay’s foundation is rooted in those writings. Once we breathed life into “Lindsay” and “Charlie,” Charlotte and I worked independently on the respective character’s chapters, and then melded the work together. It was an incredible experience, because, amazingly, as distinctive our individual voices and styles are as writers, the writing was practically seamless.

BI: What inspired you to write Cosmopolitan Girls?

CB: That afternoon hanging out with “the girls” was a big inspiration. Having another woman’s ear to not only listen and support you, but also being there for her as she shares her experiences, makes you feel really good. We want every woman to know that in the end we’re all the same.

LL: Love of self, self-acceptance, self-pride, an appreciation and fascination of women–all women, particularly African American women–and of course men, glorious men! The good, the bad, and the beauty of relationships was the drive for our novel. We wanted women to stand up and be proud in the name of love.

BI: So who exactly are the Cosmopolitan Girls? Are they based on people you know?

CB: Yes, Cosmopolitan Girls are women we know personally: our mothers, sisters, and best friends. They’re also the great women we see on TV, read about in papers and/or magazines. And of course there’s a little bit of our own personalities in the characters.

LL: A Cosmopolitan Girl can be nineteen or ninty. She is flawed, fierce, fearless, and fabulous.

BI: At the heart of this high-spirited novel is the “Cosmo Girl Code of Arms.” Could you tell us more about the pivotal role this invention plays in the main characters’ lives?

CB: The Cosmo Code of Arms is really a girl’s conscience. It’s the part of the mind that tends to be hardheaded, because of fear or insecurity or shame. So you need that best girlfriend and the rules to remind you to do the “Right Thing.” Honestly, every woman knows, deep down, right from wrong, but sometimes we bury it so deep that it’s hard for good old common sense and clear-thinking to resurface. That’s where the Code of Arms comes in. It’s a tool to help dig up the courage we women already possess.

LL: The invention of the code is pivotal because it really is the jumping-off place for the bond Lindsay and Charlie ultimately develop. Yes, they get a little crazy when they are implementing the Code of Arms, but they also get a wake-up call when they see things spinning out of control, and get themselves back on track. You know that exiled island where we want a situation to be something and we go right along operating through rose-tinted and glitter-sprinkled glasses, as opposed to dealing in reality. But everyone knows you can’t keep a good WO-man down!

BI: Do you have to be a big-city reader to enjoy the highs and lows of Lindsay and Charlie?

LL: There is a Cosmopolitan Girl in every woman. It doesn’t matter if you live in a small town or a bustling metropolis. If you’ve ever fallen in or out of love, triumphed over adversity, or worked hard for the money, this book is for you!

Praise

Praise

"I'm not really a big fiction guy, but I couldn't put this book down!  The journey of Lindsay and Charlie is a fascinating and fun ride.  Enjoy!" 
–Tavis Smiley, author and talk-show host

"Two parts love and friendship, with a twist of attitude, Cosmopolitan Girls is a heady cocktail that should be enjoyed one decadent sip at a time."
–Lori Bryant-Woolridge, author of Hitts & Mrs.
Reader's Guide|Discussion Questions

About the Book

Lindsay Bradley and Charlie Thornton are the quintessential women of the new millennium -- smart, sexy, spiritual, flawed, determined and relentless. Whether they are on a quest to fulfill the Cosmo Girl Code of Arms or weathering the unpredictable turns in their love and professional lives, Lindsay and Charlie prove that women have the power to heal each other. We hope that your reading group finds inspiration in their story. The questions that follow are designed to spark a discussion that is poignant, hilarious, compelling, and deliciously intoxicating like Lindsay and Charlie would like. So girlfriends put on your favorite big T-shirt, grab a Cosmo and some Kleenex, and get comfortable. Guys pay close attention, feel free to chime in, and well, take notes.

Discussion Guides

1. Lindsay appears to have it all together with a great job and a fabulous social life. Why is she so strong and together when it comes to taking care of business, but allows her emotions to take her off her game?

2. During Charlie's "pity party" at the beginning of the book she says she "tossed her goals to the side and put other people's happiness first". What happens when you toss your goals to the side?

3. In "Prince Charming" Lindsay and Robert share an awkward moment where they connect before Troy enters. What if Troy hadn't interrupted, do you think Lindsay would've pursued Robert's subtle invitation? What do you think the implications would've been if she had gotten involved with her boss? In examining corporate America, is there a double standard when it comes to women dating in the workplace?

4. When Lindsay and Charlie meet, it's the classic case of each one thinking the other's grass is greener. However, they discover they are two sides of the same coin. How do they reveal their similarities and differences?

5. Lindsay is flooded with opinions and advice from her sisters, her "girls" Tara and Judy, and her newfound friend, Charlie. Discuss their differences of opinions. Do you think Lindsay deserved a second chance?

6. Lindsay and Charlie devise the Cosmo Code of Arms, proving that strength is in numbers, and becoming hell-bent on getting "pay back". However, their vengeful tactics, disguised as fun-filled missions, lead to unexpected consequences. What are those consequences? When is enough is enough? Do you recall if you or a friend has ever allowed a situation in a relationship to go too far?

7. Charlie's own problems cause her to encourage Lindsay not to go down without a good fight after Troy breaks up with her. Why doesn't she have the same fighting spirit when it comes to dealing with Michael?

8. Discuss Charlie's attitude toward friendships with other women prior to meeting Lindsay. Do you know any women who have shut themselves off to friendships with other women?

9. Spirituality plays a big part in Lindsay and Charlie's lives. Recount and discuss the chapters that reveal various eye-opening moments in the story for both Lindsay and Charlie that ultimately led each woman to rediscover and renew her own spirituality and step out on faith. How important is your spirituality in your personal and professional life?

10. Charlie has a penchant for being judgmental when it comes to her mother, who she describes as a "doormat to men". Her motto is "a man has never and will never define me." What does it take for women to wake up and smell the coffee?

11. Lindsay plays into Robert's philosophy that "one should avoid excessive socializing." She never mixes the business Lindsay with the social Lindsay. Why is she intimidated by his calls? How do you balance your professional life with your social life?

12. Charlie makes reference to the sacrifices she's made to make her relationship with Michael work. She says it was a "price she was willing to pay." Were all these sacrifices worth saving the relationship? Have you ever had friends who dated a man with children from a previous relationship? Did they encounter or experience the strain of "baby momma drama?"

13. Charlie's self-inflicted writer's block, and her denial about her crumbling relationship with Michael has caused her to give up on her dreams and she's fallen into a "safe rut." How does this happen and why?

14. What does Lindsay mean when she describes the feeling she had after dinner with Tara and Judy as "vacant"? Do you have in people in your life who are "sitting with yesterday?"

15. New York City is sexy, electric, and the center of the fashion, cultural, and social universe. Explore and discuss the "Big Apple" as the backdrop for the story, and how it becomes a character itself. What is its significance in Lindsay and Charlie lives? Their friendship?

16. In "Food For Thought" Charlie raises the point that women "have to fight so much that we get confused and start fighting each other". Do you agree or disagree? Lindsay also proclaims that women have to "stop killing each other's spirits." What does this mean to you? Discuss creating a "girl's club" of your own. What would you do? Finally, Lindsay describes she and Charlie's heart to heart as an "excavation of the minds." Create your own archeological excavation of the minds within your group and discuss women developing mutual support systems and working together.

17. In "Emancipation Night" Lindsay and Charlie's new mission is to put yourself first and never settle on your happiness. Discuss the growing pains both women endured. What does it mean to be fierce, fabulous and fearless?

18. The birth of the Cosmo Code of Arms gives Lindsay and Charlie a marvelous new manifesto. Devise and discuss your own Cosmo Code of Arms.


Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: