Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's 1939, and one of the greatest movies of the twentieth century is still in its infancy with everyone at Selznick Studios, from the head of the studio down to the secretary pool, and putting in 110% effort to get the movie made. In Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, two secretaries, Violet and Audrey, start and solidify a friendship that will last through a mound of ambition, love, jealousy, heartbreak and understanding.
In 1938, Violet has just landed in California to find something that she doesn't know she's looking for. After her southern upbringing, she's a little naive about the ways of Hollywood, but she also already knows heartache when she is turned away by her fiance due to a health complication that makes her infertile. Once securely employed as a secretary, she meets her new roommate, Audrey Duvall. Audrey nearly made it to the big screen as a huge silent film star, but as soon as talkies came out, her film that would shoot her to stardom is scrapped. Together, they work on Gone with the Wind like everyone else as the studio, including Audrey's good friend Bert. Through trials and tribulations, the friends ask a lot of each other in different ways.
Though the main story in this novel is about the friendship between Violet and Audrey, it is also the tale of a missing hat from the set of Gone with the Wind. The secondary story is told through flash forwards scattered throughout the book. These seem to break up the 1938/9 story in odd places—it would have been a lot easier to see these flash forwards once at the beginning and once at the end. However, the story of these women and what they mean to each other over decades is very strong. I not only enjoyed the story for what it was, but also for the way that the author has incorporated the history of Hollywood and one of the most iconic films from the Golden Age.
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