Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Book Review: Stars over Sunset Boulevard

By Melissa Amster

I will first admit that I'm not much of a Gone with the Wind fan. I saw the movie a long time ago, but it didn't do much for me. However, I was interested to read Stars Over Sunset Boulevard because it was a glimpse into Hollywood in the 1930s and I thought it would be interesting. What unfolded was a story that was hard to put down!

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.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Susan Meissner describes the movie set so vividly that I felt like I was right there with Violet and Audrey, watching scenes from the iconic film fall into place. What was even more interesting was Violet and Audrey's personal journeys. They contrast in a way that reminds me of Firefly Lane and some other books about unlikely friendships. Violet seemed so passive and kind, that I didn't expect her to pull off certain actions that were integral to the plot. Audrey was colorful and dynamic and I always felt like I was on an adventure with her. Both of their stories were compelling and I felt sympathetic toward each of them. Susan talks about issues that still take place in Hollywood now, but showed how women dealt with them back then. They definitely did not have social media to air their grievances about certain things that were happening.

While some parts felt predictable, there was still some comfort in that and there was still a road ahead that was unknown. I enjoyed learning about how the hat ended up where it did. The only thing that seemed odd to me was Bert's career choice. It didn't really fit in that well with the story. Obviously, it was a minor issue in the grand scheme of how enjoyable the story was overall.

I like Susan Meissner's writing style and I definitely want to read more of her novels in the future (as well as the ones she has previously written).

A movie about a movie? Works for me! (My casting ideas for the characters in the 1930s and 40s.)
Audrey: Blake Lively
Violet: Emma Watson
Bert: Miles Teller

Thanks to Berkley/NAL for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Susan Meissner:


Janine said...

This book does sound really good. Great review.

susieqlaw said...

Great review! I love the casting choices!