Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, by Susan Meissner {ends 5/5}

Christine withdraws a paper-wrapped lump from inside the box, revealing at first just a flash of moss green and shimmers of gold. Then she pulls away the rest of the layers. The Robin Hood-style hat in folds of soft velvet, amber-hued fringe, and iridescent feathers feels ghostly in her hands, as though if she put it to her ear, it might whisper a litany of old secrets.

She has seen this hat somewhere before, a long time ago. 
...
Stella moves closer, brow furrowed. "That hat looks familiar to me."

"It does to me, too." Christine turns the hat over to inspects its underside for signs of its designer - a label, a signature, a date. She sees only a single name in faded ink on a yellowed tag:

Scarlett #13.

I love historical books, so it was no surprise that I really enjoyed Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, as it jumps between the '30s to '60s and present-day (2012). It also revolves around Gone with the Wind, one of the most famous movies of the past 100 years, so that element was interesting as well.

Official synopsis:
In this new novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life, two women working in Hollywood during its Golden Age discover the joy and heartbreak of true friendship.

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.


At the beginning of this novel, a hat ends up in the possession of a vintage shopkeeper, who recognizes it, as it looks familiar to her. We then flash back to 1938, where Violet Mayfield meets Audrey Duvall, as both are working as secretaries on the set of Gone with the Wind. Violet becomes Audrey's roommate, and one night, when they get drunk with Audrey's friend Bert, a Peter Pan-style hat from the set of the movie goes missing; Violet figures out that Audrey took it, and doesn't want her to get in trouble, so she immediately ships it back to her family, in Alabama.

Meanwhile, in present-day 2012, the family that dropped off the box full of things (including the Peter Pan hat) calls Christine McAllister (the shopkeeper) and tells her that they need it back - some of the items in the box, including the hat, weren't supposed to be donated to the shop.

The story in between 1938 and 2012 is a fascinating one, as we follow Violet and Audrey through their lives, starting when they're in their 20s and continuing through their adulthood and senior years. Although the hat is at the center of the story, as well as Violet and Audrey in their 20s when they are secretaries, the story of these two women begin to intertwine even more, when Audrey discovers she's pregnant (not for the first time, too) and wants Violet to adopt her baby, since Violet is barren due to a surgery and can't have children of her own.

The descriptions of L.A. during this time period were interesting too - Violet gets to be the secretary for one of the bigwigs on the set of Gone with the Wind, so she gets to see Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh on an almost-daily basis. I've seen the movie but not for a while (we watched it in a classic films class in high school) and I'd like to rewatch it at some point after reading this novel.

4 stars out of 5.
{Click here to purchase}

GIVEAWAY:

I have one paperback copy of this novel for a lucky reader to win!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, May 5th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard

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