The dilemma of being a woman director in 1935 is not lost on Vivien Howard, who dresses like Hepburn but whose life lacks the romantic hijinks of a George Cukor film. Vivien has an emotionally unchallenging relationship with a bit part actor, and she hopes that this latest film project will catapult him to professional success. A box office hit is crucial, so the studio brings in Weston Holmes to keep Vivien on target, even at the point of sacrificing her artistic vision. As their personal and professional lives begin to entwine, Vivien and Weston are forced into an unthinkable compromise. Can Vivien become the leading lady in her own story or is she slated to remain behind the camera?
If readers look closely, they may find real-life parallels to the film industry, notably the similarity between the main actors to Hollywood darlings Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, the studio brands, and the title of the film to a certain other Civil War-era love story. The book’s shorter format length and cover styling compliment the retro feel. Lee’s work is an homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood, at times saccharine and predictable but a pleasant enough read.