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.
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard is the first book I’ve ever read from author, Susan Meissner, and I wasn’t disappointed. While the story itself is framed with short chapters set in 2012, when Violet’s family is cleaning out the bungalow where she and Audrey lived, and a vintage hat gets accidently sent to the consignment store. The hat is one anyone would recognize: it’s the green velvet hat Scarlet O’Hara made out of her mother’s drapes.
The real story is really what this book is about – it’s a story set out in old Hollywood with main characters, Audrey, Violet and Bert and who all work together on the set of “Gone with the Wind.” While it is clear that Bert is enamored with Audrey, it is also clear that Audrey’s feelings are not mutual with Bert, while Violet has decided she is actually in love with Bert. Violet has come to Hollywood to escape a broken-heart and personal suffering as well, and all she wants is a husband, children, and a house with a white picket fence. Audrey’s dream is only to reach the stars and make it as a Hollywood star, having missed her opportunity at the end of the silent film era. Audrey and Violet are such complete opposites of one another that it made them very unlikely but good friends. Their friendship is touching and believable, and brings them very close together. They are both very different women and interact with the world very differently. It’s these differences that makes the story so interesting. Both Audrey and Violet are hiding their own past secrets that keep each of them from getting what they want most.
Thanks to Bert’s love of birds, readers should be sure to look out for references to the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy-tale ‘The Nightingale’, adding a classic and memorable dimension to the story on this front.
Meissner crafts a story line full of friendship and secrets that keeps their lives linked throughout the decades. I was never a big Gone with the Wind fan, but I did enjoy how Ms. Meissner has woven some very interesting “behind-the-scenes” details about the film’s production and release that was also important to the plot of the story. The characters were always well drawn and interesting and Stars Over Sunset Boulevard kept my attention from the beginning to the end of the story.
Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008. A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University. Susan is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she’s not working on a novel, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. Visit Susan at her Website HERE, on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or on Facebook HERE.
I was provided with a complimentary digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and unbiased opinion.