I love history, and I love movies. When you add these two elements, I will admit that I get positively swoony. Enter a book that takes place behind-the-scenes of a movie with which I am familiar and I am there. Susan Meissner takes Gone with the Wind’s filming to a completely new level with her novel about Hollywood, Stars Over Sunset Boulevard.
Thanks to Netgalley and the Penguin Group for the opportunity to read an egalley copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review.
Violet comes to Hollywood after a great meeting with someone from the Studio who offered her a secretarial job during the studio’s filming of Gone with the Wind. Within a few weeks, she meets Audrey, another secretary at the Studio. Audrey was ‘discovered’ and placed in what would be a landmark film about Pocahontas—until The Jazz Singer (and the rest of the talkies) changed Hollywood film forever. Violet becomes a tenant of Audrey’s—sharing a bungalow as she acclimates to Hollywood life. Both of the women have secrets that unfold as the film Gone with the Wind is being worked on, and those secrets threaten each of their future happiness—can their friendship survive the secrets, or will they become just another set of secretaries in the Hollywood system?
I immediately felt drawn to Violet, as the story is written to be sympathetic to her. However, I also great to like Audrey a great deal as I progressed in the book. Both girls have qualities that set them apart from the average girl on the street. I became invested in each, and their friendship relatively quickly.
However, as the novel progressed, I felt more sympathetic to Audrey and her career. She was honest with the fact she was not a ‘stay at home and raise children’ type. And she goes on, not really achieving her dreams, but with a solid career in place. And happiness. I think the roles change closer to the end of shooting the film—it wasn’t just a studio-ender, it was almost a friendship-killer.
Susan Meissner does a fabulous job at writing this story of two women in historical Hollywood. She manages to combine the historical accuracy of the area with the magical sheen of the time period. We were all a little more innocent back then, but there was an undercurrent of darker things, and Meissner does an amazing job with the period. I took a look at her website, and it looks like she writes historical fiction—I am excited to read more from her.
I recommend this book to anyone looking for a good story about a friendship that is caused by circumstances, but that deepens over time. It is a story essential to a woman—the life cycle of a deep female friendship. This book will be available in paperback and ebook format January 6, 2016. You can preorder your copy from your favorite retailer today—you won’t be sorry.
If you could pick any movie to work ‘behind-the-scenes’, what would it be? Please share in the comments.