Stars over Sunset Boulevard

Written by Susan Meissner
Review by Arleigh Johnson

Following the paths of two women, this story takes readers to 1930s Hollywood and the glamorous film set of Gone with the Wind. Audrey Duvall and Violet Mayfield are roommates and both employed as stenographers at Selznick International Pictures, though each with her own goals for the future. Violet had moved across country to make a new life for herself after a failed relationship, and Audrey, a one-time silent film star, was networking and trying to make a comeback in the industry. With the highly anticipated film adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s bestselling novel, the stage is set for both women to get closer to her own heart’s desire.

As with the author’s previous novel, Secrets of a Charmed Life, this is an intricately layered story about choices and consequences over several decades. While early in the story the reader is drawn toward Violet’s character with her naïve, but well-intended decisions, later Audrey’s pragmatic attitude and unspoken wisdom evens out the score, making a perfect dual perspective. There are plenty of famous names discussed, such as Lillian Gish, Clark Gable, Laurence Olivier, and Vivien Leigh, and though they were not the main focus, the inclusion sets the tone of the story and gives credence to the lofty title.

This novel is a delight for fans of the early Hollywood era, as it brings to light the inner workings of a famous film set and many of the actual people, props and rumors that are still widely discussed today. Meissner’s signature style tends to be weaving a complicated and multi-faceted narrative with troubled characters – and it works exceedingly well in satisfying readers with high expectations of entertaining, but historically accurate reads.