Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: NAL (January 5, 2016)
In this new novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life, two women working in Hollywood during its Golden Age discover the joy and heartbreak of true friendship.
Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie…
Los Angeles, 1938. Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide. What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future.
I will read anything Susan Meissner publishes so I knew I would like this book. The setting is unique in that most of it takes place on a movie set in Hollywood during the filming of Gone With the Wind. There were many things going on in the background that I had never thought of before, and being a history buff I loved that.
Audrey and Violet are flawed characters, and the fact that they remain friends over the years seems quite remarkable. I did not understand until well into the story how fearful of loss that Violet was, but sticking with the story until her motivations made more sense to me was certainly worth it. Meissner’s characters usually do have deeper conflicts than is revealed in the beginning, and this literary style always keeps me turning the pages. Just why would someone choose to lie or manipulate situations that seemed to me insignificant? Pondering the depths of a person’s moral character is something Meissner does well. A little more about both main characters’ backgrounds before they met would have been helpful, in my opinion, but it was all tied up nicely in the end.
There was not much of the present day story in this book. By the time she returns to the story I had forgotten who Christine McAllister was. I think it could have been skipped all together and turned into a purely historical novel, but switching to the present happened so infrequently I would not say it was a distraction. I can’t say this was my favorite Meissner book, but I did enjoy it and recommend it to others who like her stories and to those interested in the Hollywood era of the ‘30s and ‘40s.
I received an advanced copy of this novel for the purpose of an honest review.
Cindy Thomson is the author of seven books, including her newest novel, Sofia’s Tune, the third book in her Ellis Island series. She also writes genealogy articles for Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today magazines, and short stories for Clubhouse Magazine. Visit her at www.cindyswriting.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cindyswriting and on Twitter: @cindyswriting