Thursday, April 14, 2016

"stars over sunset boulevard" by susan meissner

One seemingly small deception sets in motion events that will change lives forever in Stars over Sunset Boulevard.

Los Angeles, Present Day. 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 her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie… 

Los Angeles, 1938.  Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her  dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands 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 is a fascinating story about two women trying to make it in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Audrey once was on her way to stardom, but now she's relegated to the secretarial pool at a movie studio. Violet, on the run from her past, ends up at the same studio, and the two become roommates and best friends. Though their friendship lasts decades, it is fraught with deception, jealousy, and secrets that threaten to destroy their happiness.

From the opening pages, Susan Meissner sweeps readers into the glamour of the time. Most of the novel is set during the filming of Gone with the Wind, lending a real-world touchpoint to the action. I especially loved the first half of the novel, when Violet was establishing her life in Hollywood; however, as the story progressed, Violet's actions became more and more manipulative, and I had a hard time rooting for her. Not including the interspersed present-day scenes, the novel covers 25 years, and the later portions of the novel aren't nearly as engaging as the first half. (Also, I think it's worth noting that while this is a dual timeline story, less than ten percent of the story actually takes place in the present. So don't look for much insight into Christine's character.)

Actions have consequences; we all know that. But I felt like Violet's manipulations, nearly all of which came from a place of fear and self-preservation, did not have enough consequences. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak, and it never did. Also, near the end of the book, Violet and Audrey finally confessed their secrets to one another, and Audrey took some of the blame for the problems in their relationship--but looking back on the story, there wasn't really anything she had done to harm Violet, so I just felt confused and dissatisfied with the scene, rather than being relieved that the two were able to repair their friendship.

The writing in Stars over Sunset Boulevard is beautiful, and I was very entertained by the novel; I just wish the second half had been as strong as the first. 4 stars.

Buy the book.

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 to 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. 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, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. Visit Susan at her website: on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product free for review from through its Vine reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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