About the Book (from Penguin Random House)
In this novel from the acclaimed author of A Bridge Across the Ocean and The Last Year of the War, 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.
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard is poignantly penned, a tale of two roommates and friends who carry past pain into their present choices. It's one of those stories where you can sympathize with both main characters and yet feel disillusioned with them at the same time. You don't have to look too deep to see your own weaknesses and fears reflected in their behavior.
This is first and foremost historical fiction, as the contemporary snippets are few and far between. But it's nice in that way to be able to stay firmly rooted in the lives of Violet and Audrey without much interruption. And the historical backdrop is quite fascinating! While modern Hollywood has little appeal for me, the Hollywood of the late 1930s depicted in the first half of this book definitely has charm (although I still don't think I'd have wanted to get too drawn in to that world, between the pressure, temptations, and crazy work schedule!). The studio, Audrey's bungalow, nighttime walks along the boulevard...all endearing in their own way.
As for Violet and Audrey themselves, what drama begins when these two meet! I enjoyed reading about their growing friendship, even as I grew dismayed at the signs that everything might be falling apart. There is some romance in this novel, although it doesn't quite take center stage. Instead, the main focus is on these two women, the span of their friendship, and the hurts and hopes marking their journeys.
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard isn't a rom-com with lots of feel-good moments and a typical happily ever after. Despite its many incidents of heartbreak, though, it's a star-studded story—featuring bits of distant light in the midst of dark times and emotions. It's a heartfelt, thought-provoking read that points to the importance of truth, freedom of choice, compassion, and grace.
*With thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*
This is the alternate Kindle cover of the book.
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