Have you ever pushed the limits of a friendship?
Ever held onto a secret for a really long time? Decades, even?
Have you ever deceived someone to get what you wanted?
Ever held onto something too tightly, afraid to let it go?
All of these aspects of life come into play in the new novel, Stars Over Sunset Boulevard.
In her latest work of historical fiction, author Susan Meissner takes us back to Hollywood during the filming of Gone With the Wind. She weaves two story lines — one present day, one during the late 1930’s era — with a hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara as the common link.
The two main characters, Violet and Audrey, form an interesting and complicated friendship. Will it stand the test of time? Will their dependency upon each other make their relationship stronger, or cause it to crumble?
Will their goals and aspirations in life spur one another on, or stand in each other’s way?
“A lovely, well-crafted story that peeks at a fascinating moment in cinematic history and examines the power and vulnerability of sincere friendship.” – Kirkus Review
Below is an interview with author Susan Meissner. Enjoy this glimpse into Stars Over Sunset Boulevard!
Where did the idea for Stars Over Sunset Boulevard come from?
I’ve only read Gone with the Wind once, but I’ve probably seen the movie a dozen times. There’s something about those characters, the cinematography, the costumes and that sound track that have always wooed me. I’ve wanted to set a story on the 1939 movie set of this film for a long time; I knew it would provide a detail-rich environment. Gone with the Wind is not very often described as being a story about friendship, but the more I’ve watched the film version, the more I’ve seen how complex Scarlett O’Hara and Melanie Hamilton’s relationship was. I long wanted to explore how these two characters seem to be polar opposites but are actually both fiercely loyal and unafraid of making hard choices to protect what they love. I knew I could use Scarlett and Melanie’s fictional friendship as a template for telling a story about two studio secretaries who, like Scarlett and Melanie, are not as different from each other as we might first think.
What is the story about, in a nutshell?
Christine McAllister owns a vintage clothing store on West Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. When the iconic curtain-dress hat worn by Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind ends up in her boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner takes the reader on a journey to the past.
It’s 1938 and Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Los Angeles after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart. She lands a job on the film-set of Gone with the Wind and meets the 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 start to 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.
What would you especially like readers to take away from Stars over Sunset Boulevard?
I hope the theme that will resonate most is that love and fear can sometimes feel the same, though they influence our choices differently. When I have a decision to make that involves another person, fear often motivates me to choose what’s best for me. But love motivates me to choose what is best for the other person. Fear urges me to hang on to what is mine, while love can actually lead me to let go. My hoped-for takeaway from the novel is the idea that when you hold something you love tightly to your chest for fear of losing it, you actually risk crushing it.
Thank you, Susan — for the interview, and for another wonderful book!
To order Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, click here.
Susan Meissner is the multi-published author of eighteen books, including Secrets of a Charmed Life, a 2015 Goodreads Choice Award finalist, and A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014. She is also a speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. She and her husband make their home in Southern California.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Affiliate links used in this post.