I received this book for free from Publicist in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner
Published by NAL on January 5, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Women, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Literary
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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 the reader on a journey to the past.
It’s 1938 and Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Los Angeles after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, landing 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.
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner had the potential to be great. Instead it was good but lacked the emotional pull needed. Violet and Audrey are both secretaries at the movie studio filming Gone With the Wind in 1938. They become roommates out of necessity and friends out of shared hopes and dreams. When a hat from the set goes missing, a series of decisions will forever alter the dynamic of the two women.
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard had a very intriguing plot. It did not focus on the stars of the film, but highlighted the lives of those working behind the scenes. The plot moved through history from 1938 to the present day with the hat as the anchor of the interweaving timelines. Susan Meissner’s writing was nuanced and full of emotion. She was able to paint a vivid picture of the action and the settings. The pacing was a little off to me. About 70% of the story happens from 1938 to 1941 and the remaining 70 odd years felt shoved into the end of the book. The world built was bright and I could very easily see the scenes unfold. There was a nice emotional feeling to the story, however it never grabbed me. The characters were also a little lackluster to me. Violet, was on the surface, a deep and caring person, but her jealousy overwhelmed her and made her seem petty. Audrey also seemed caring but really only cared about herself and what others could do for her. Bert was a bland place filler as the man stuck between both women.
I did like Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, however I wish more attention had been spent in the latter time frames. There was an issue that happened very near the end that tore the two women apart and I would have loved to see their process back to each other. Instead, it was mentioned as an afterthought that they made up. That is the story line I was super interested in and wish that more focus was spent on it. Susan Meissner does have a way with places and descriptions and even when I wasn’t thrilled with what a character was doing, I could always picture them doing it. This was an enjoyable read, but I felt it spent to much time on the build up and not enough time on the emotions.
Favorite lines – “Don’t forget I told you this. This is the city where everything is possible if you are just patient. Don’t forget it.”
Biggest cliché – I am super happy until I get what I want.
Have you read Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, or added it to your TBR?
What readers are saying . . .
“Susan Meissner deftly casts a fascinating friendship between two complex women against a glittering 1930s Hollywood backdrop. You will love this book for its very human characters and for its inside look at one of the greatest movies ever made.”
- Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling author of Belong To Me
“Beautifully simple yet impactful.”
- Romantic Times, 4 stars
“A lovely, well-crafted story that peeks at a fascinating moment in cinematic history and examines the power and vulnerability of sincere friendship.”
- Kirkus Reviews
Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include A Fall of Marigolds, named by Booklist’s Top Ten women’s fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008. She is also a RITA finalist, and Christy Award winner.
A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University. Susan is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she’s not working on a novel, she writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. She is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2016 New Release Challenge
- The Goodreads Challenge