Please note: I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences the opinions of this review.
Synopsis (From GoodReads):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.
When I was approved from NetGalley to read this book, Stars over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner, all I knew of it was that it was an historical fiction set in Hollywood. I had been busy with other books when I got it, and didn't look at it for a few weeks. If I had know it was centered around the filming of the film Gone With The Wind in 1938, I would have read it much sooner. Gone With The Wind is one of my all-time favorite movies, so reading a story like this was such a treat.
The story alternates between The present day and the years from 1938 to around 1968, and explores the friendship between two women. New to California, Violet comes from the South to work as a secretary for the studio making Gone With The Wind. She meets Audrey, a woman who once was tapped to be a star but fate (and talking pictures) stepped in and put her dreams on hold. Now she is biding her time in the secretarial pool, waiting for that magic moment when she will be discovered. Since Violet has no interest whatsoever in becoming an actress, Audrey feels comfortable with her and the two become roommates.
Although this is a work of fiction, the author did a wonderful job of putting in details that made it seem like a behind the scenes tell-all. I loved all reading about the nitty-gritty work that was put in to the making of a classic, from the costume details to the arguments over how red the Tarleton twins' hair should be.
The relationships in this book are complicated and evolve over many years. As Violet falls for Audrey's friend Bert, Audrey becomes increasingly desperate to become a Star. Both women do things that they regret in pursuit of their dreams, and their friendship suffers. There are jealousies and slights that cut deep. Even eighty years ago, there were conflicting demands for women of having a career verses raising a family. I think the book did a good job of illustrating the consequences of their actions without judgement.
I enjoyed this book so much for its attention to historical detail and the minutiae of a long-standing friendship. If you love that era of Hollywood's Golden Age, you will be starstruck over this book.
Release Date: January 5th, 2016
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Recommendation: A must-read for lovers of the Golden Age of Hollywood!
Will I read more from this author? Yes!