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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard: Susan Meissner

By Kelly Bridgewater

Synopsis (From Amazon):

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.
From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I have personally never read anything by Susan Meissner, but the idea of a story set during the 1930’s Hollywood and 1940’s interested me, so I jumped at a chance to read her new book Stars Over Sunset Boulevard. The story is told from Violet Mayfield, a southern belle transported to the hills of Hollywood, and Audrey Duvall, a woman from northern California who wants to become a huge star. Meissner’s latest book carries all the aspect of a historical fiction and will captive readers alike.

I really enjoy how much research Meissner has done with the production of Gone With the Wind to make it come to life for the reader. I really felt like I was on the studio stage as the Hollywood stars and producers were making Gone With the Wind. Following the lives of two secretaries who want more out of their individual lives, Audrey and Violet show the inner workings behind this popular movie. (As a side note, I had to watch this movie in graduate school, and I really DON’T like it. Too long. Too boring.)

Audrey and Violet’s friendship glues the whole plot together. Audrey and Violet meet because Violet needs somewhere to stay when she comes to Hollywood. A lifelong friendship is born. There is plenty of tense moments and many ups and downs to make the relationship realistic. I enjoyed watching them change and transform throughout the novel.

I did have a hard time staying focused when it came to the middle of the book. It kind of drags. Meissner spent the first sixty percent of the book, showing the story in three years time, but then she jumps through seventy years in the last forty percent. It felt really rushed to me. The story should have ended before the last part and the story would have worked out fine.

Like a historical novel, Meissner does a great job at capturing the time period and transporting me to the late 1930’s. Meissner reminded me that friendship is valued above everything else in life.  Fans of Lorna Seilstad and Jessica Dotta would devour this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Penguin Group publishing the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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