Judith D Collins
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard
By: Susan Meissner
Publication Date: 1/5/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
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.
A special thank you to PENGUIN Berkley/NAL and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Master storyteller, Susan Meissner delivers a stunning detailed account of the Golden Age Hollywood’s era of the 1930s, STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD —filled with magical lyrical prose, emotion, dreams, allure, friendship, and desires of the heart; with behind the scenes of the iconic, "Gone with the Wind" movie set. Meissner draws you into the personal worlds of two memorable women who become friends— set in one of the most exciting times .. the charm and glamour of Hollywood. A heartwarming tale of the power of love and forgiveness—a relationship that spans decades and weathers life's complex storms. Meet two women: Violet Mayfield and Audrey Duvall --a hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara resurfaces in a vintage shop in Los Angeles. The story alternates between present day, and from the late thirties to the late sixties. Two women who become friends. Violet, the southern belle wants home and family. She comes from the South (Alabama) in 1938, to Los Angeles to work as a secretary for the studio making Gone With The Wind. She wanted to be a wife and a mother; however, it did not work out the way she planned. Audrey was once a rising film star, now a secretary and the women become friends and roommates working with one of the most famous motion picture of all times. Unlike Audrey, Violet has no desire to become an actress. Audrey is glad, because she does not need the competition as a roommate. She is waiting to be discovered. Something about Audrey made Violet think old hopes could be given new shapes. Audrey looked like a highly-paid actress rather than a fellow studio secretary when they met. As most friends, they experience ups and downs. A complex relationship, things are said and done, lies, betrayal, secrets----each have their own desires and aspirations. As we see, even in earlier days there is also ways a power struggle between personal and career for a woman. Choices. Decisions. Consequences. Ultimately an inspiring story of love, friendship, and redemption.
Susan is definitely in her element—no one can revisit the past, and put her own unique spin to history, like Meissner-- with her distinct style, elegance, grace, and charm. It is quite exciting to learn the inspiration behind the novel:
Inspired by the green velvet “curtains” hat that Scarlett wears in the film, Susan contacted the curator of the “Producing Gone With the Wind” exhibit at The University of Texas at Austin to hear about how the hat and outfit came to be. After that conversation, the idea for a novel came to Susan; what if there was another green hat made for Scarlett that went missing… only to be rediscovered decades later?
“The hat is the color of envy and greed. However, the green is the color of life springing up out of the earth. The color of new beginnings." If you have not read A Fall of Marigolds or Secrets of a Charmed Life highly recommend. Reinvention. (previews included).
About the Author
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 Twitter Facebook