Stars Over Sunset Boulevard Review

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.

(Above synopsis courtesy of the publisher.)

As a pop culture junkie, to get the inside track to Hollywood, especially during the 1930s, was fascinating.  Meissner writes as if you are actually on set with the cast and crew experiencing it just as they are.  I loved the references to the secretaries dutifully following everyone around to take notes and dictation, something completely different from our world today.  My favorite part was all the behind-the-scenes details that went in to make this classic movie.

This was so much more than just a Hollywood story.  At the base of this novel is a friendship between two women and the lengths they go to get what they want.  As unusual as this was back before World War II, it proves to be a battle women are still fighting today.  If you didn’t know the time period of this book before you opened it, you’d realize that Audrey and Violet’s ambitions would make sense even now.

For those who love historical fiction with ties to the present (books like Orphan Train and The Mapmaker’s Children), be sure to add this to your reading list.  Anybody who likes a story with female friendship at its core should pick this one up.

This would make a perfect choice for book clubs to discuss if these ladies made the right decisions and how their lives would be different if others were made.  The paperback copy even provides a reading guide along with an interview with Susan so you can learn more about her writing process.

Thank you to Berkeley/NAL and Susan’s publicist for a copy in exchange for an honest review.


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.

Connect with Susan via her website, Facebook, and Goodreads.

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