Thursday, March 22, 2018

Historical Hollywood Novel Gripping and Glamorous

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Christine McAllister, owner of a chic vintage clothing shop in Hollywood, receives a donated movie prop, she's stunned.  How did Scarlet O'Hara's iconic hat end up in her hands instead of in a film museum?  There has to be a story there.  As Christine hunts for answers, she uncovers a tale as rich and intriguing as any she's seen on the big screen ...

It's 1938 and employees of Selznick International Pictures are scurrying to produce a film of epic proportions.  Sure to be a major hit, Gone With the Wind must be perfect, with every detail flawlessly executed.  Desperate to escape her debutante life in Alabama, 22-year-old Violet Mayfield accepts a secretarial position at the studio and is thrown right into the intoxicating whirlwind of Hollywood glitz and glam.  Her roommate, Audrey Duvall, is a promising but aging actress who, at 30, is desperate to land a significant part in a real movie.  In the meantime, the entrancing beauty appoints herself Violet's mentor, teaching the newcomer the ins and outs of life in Tinseltown.  

While Violet's aims are different from Audrey's ambitions, they're just as encompassing.  As the years pass and their dreams seem in danger of dying, both women will do things of which they're not proud in order to get what they want.  The consequences of those decisions will echo throughout their lives, changing their focus, their friendship, and their futures.  

I enjoy Susan Meissner's quiet, compelling novels and Stars Over Sunset Boulevard is no exception.  Since I always seem to prefer the past sections in a dual timeline story, this one especially appeals because only about 10% of it takes place in the present.  With its magical setting and complex characters, the 1938 tale is absorbing enough on its own.  Meissner's vivid storytelling brings the hustle and bustle of a Hollywood studio to life, with fascinating historical details to make it even more intriguing.  I found myself easily wrapped up in the setting, the characters, and the plot in this engrossing novel about the lengths to which we'll go to get what we want.

(Readalikes:  I haven't read many novels about Hollywood/the film industry, so I'm not sure what to compare Stars Over Sunset Boulevard to plot-wise.  Stylistically, of course, it's similar to Susan Meissner's other dual timeline novels.)

Grade:

      
If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

4 comments:

  1. Ugh! You make me want to read everything!!!

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  2. Hollywood tales always seem to be intriguing because their lives are so public and this novel seems to do that well.

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  3. This one sounds like a book I would love. I think I read one or two novels by this author. Not sure. It may be that I have them on my bookshelf and still haven't read them! But your reviews make me eager to get to them.

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