Stars Over Sunset Boulevard - Susan Meissner
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 guess now is as good a time as any to make the kind of embarrassing confession that I have never seen Gone With the Wind. I know, who hasn't, right? I haven't, and I don't have this desire to even after reading this book. But! If you are a fan of that movie, you will probably love this book because it marries the iconic movie really well with this new story. The hat is accidentally given to an antique clothing store and the owner recognizes it right away and tries to return it to the rightful owner, and that's the start of the book.
I also have to tell you that if you are a fan of old Hollywood and the stories of women who sacrificed everything to make it in the industry back then, you will LOVE this book. It's reminiscent of Platinum Doll for me, and that's a good thing because while I know nothing about the movie Gone With the Wind, it's totally OK because the story of Violet, and then Audrey, is so compelling. It's a story of two women becoming friends who maybe otherwise wouldn't necessarily be friends. Audrey has what Violet needs to make it. You also have to remember that these women are trying to make it at a time where movies are transitioning from silent feature films to traditional film where women have bigger parts and speak, so that alone made it an exciting, but also challenging time. The two women make lot of big decisions in the book, separately and together, and sometimes I found myself wondering if they really made the right ones. I think if you are looking for a movie themed book for a book club, this would be a really unconventional pick but you could have some good discussions. Of course, with every decision there is a consequence down the line and both women experience those and again, it makes you wonder if it was worth it for them in some regards.
Overall? I'd give this book 4/5 stars. The characters are developed really well, and while they aren't ones I'd normally love, thinking back to the time period and what they were trying to do and become? It made sense and it made me like them more. I had no problem flying through this book over the course of a weekend. My biggest complaint, if I had to give you one, would be some of the dialogue feels a bit off? I'm not sure if it's me being picky because that's a realistic dialogue of the time period, or what, but I'm finding I've gotten snobby with book dialogue.
There is only 6 months until Christmas (yes, I'm one of THOSE people) so if you have someone on your list who loves Gone With the Wind, or old Hollywood in general, you should pick up a copy of Stars Over Sunset Boulevard! In the meantime, you can follow Susan Meissner on her website, Facebook, and Twitter! Happy reading!