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.
- A Unique Experience of the Movie "Gone With The Wind"
This is the second novel that I have read by Susan Meissner. Her use of two parallel stories, one in the present and a second in the past which are linked together by some physical object creates a mystery-like novel that adds to our knowledge of historical events through connection to the present.
Once again, my experience was very good after an early period of wondering what was happening. It seems like it takes a while to understand what the story is actually about. As the novel progresses however, Meissner’s excellent research gives us insight into the historical event. In the case of this novel, the event was the making of the movie “Gone With the Wind.”
I learned a great deal about the environment, people and details of the making of this movie. The author develops the characters in the novel in great depth and often helps give us insights into our own lives and the way that we interact with others in our lives. She gives us models of good relationships, deceptive relationships and true friendships. Many of these characteristics can easily be applied to our own lives.
Ann Marie Lee did an exceptional job of narrating, using different voices for each of the characters in the novel and adding a depth that is sometimes lacking in other audio books.
I was given a free audio version of this book for my agreement to review it but this has not influenced my personal impressions of the book.
- Superb narration. Good story.
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, by Susan Meissner, is an interesting story for those of us who loved Gone With the Wind. Behind the scenes of the David Selznick movie come alive through two main characters, secretaries Violet Mayfield and Audrey Duvall (who is also an aspiring actress.) The story deals with their friendship, climb from painful pasts, and mutual hunger for success.
I must say I enjoyed Ms. Meissner’s book/audio Secrets of a Charmed Life, more than I did this story. The characters in Charmed Life were more likeable and easy to relate to. Stars Over Sunset Boulevard’s Violet and Audrey fell a little flat for me. I didn’t particularly like them in the beginning (although that changed somewhat the further I read/listened.)
"The streetcar lurched forward toward the foothills and the Hollywoodland sign as the first two stars of the night sky pierced the lavender horizon." (Excerpt)
I feel the audiobook is probably more intriguing than the book, due to the excellent narrator. The diverse accents she used for the different character voices made each more believable and intriguing. Otherwise, I feel some of the lengthy narration would have lost me if I were reading it for myself.
"They walked back to the table and Violet realized Bert didn’t want just any company while listening for some unexplainable nightingale. He wanted Audrey’s." (Excerpt)
Audio Narration: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard is told in third person, narrated by Ann Marie Less. She does an exquisite job of narration, making the story come alive. Her inflection is clear and concise, and she expresses the differing accents magnificently.
Audio Production Quality: The production quality of this audio book is clear, with no distracting background music, static, or skips.
Overall Opinion: This is a good story with unique characters and perspectives. It leaves me wanting a bit more though. Because of the narration, I stayed with the story, but much of the information didn’t seem to move the story forward, or keep me “glued” so to speak. I struggled between 3 and 4 stars – but ultimately—because of the superb narration—I rate it 4.
Audio Length: 10:59 hours
Pages (printed length): 400
First Line: A brilliant California sun bathed Violet Mayfield in indulgent light as she neared the soaring palm tree and the woman seated on a bench underneath it.
I received a Review Copy from christianaudio.
- Engaging Grace
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard is an engaging fictional tale set in old Hollywood. While connected to the film industry, the film history portion is more peripheral to the narrative. At its core, Stars is a story about true love. Yes, there's a romantic component, but it's actually quite small. This is really a story about the power of grace and unconditional love that is the foundation of many types of relationships.
Meissner's book does a beautiful job of weaving a potent tale of people becoming a family. I found myself wanting to find excuses to do chores and activities so I could continue listening to the audiobook (Ann Marie Lee's narration and acting is superb) because I cared about the characters. The situations were complex enough to be realistic, not oversimplifying or whitewashing difficult situations or emotions. Meissner was able to naturally validate a wide range of emotional reactions and behaviors while clearly noting the short-term and long-term consequences. Grace finds its way in, but without minimizing or removing those consequences.
Ultimately, Stars Over Sunset Boulevard is engaging, well-narrated story that conveys the power and beauty of grace in building familial relationships in midst the highs and lows of life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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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- Interesting historic content enhances a delightful story about friendship, risks and love.
I thoroughly enjoyed how author Susan Meissner was able to weave Gone With the Wind (my favorite movie of all time) and 1930s Hollywood into the evolving friendship of two young women--Audrey and Violet. She exquisitely blended historic details with the personal stories of the characters. I usually prefer hard copy books over audio but was pleasantly surprised by this audio version. Narrator Ann Marie Lee's rich, clear voice and ability to distinguish the characters through intonation and accent kept it interesting and easy to follow.
- Another Good Story From Susan Meissner
I liked this latest audiobook from Susan Meissner having thoroughly enjoyed Secrets of a Charmed Life. I loved the setting of the main story in Hollywood during the filming of Gone With The Wind. I've only ever seen famous clips of the movie and was a bit concerned I might miss out on the story line because of that. Fortunately it didn't ruin the story for me at all as it wasn't about the film but about imaginary characters working behind the scenes.
Anne Marie Lee was superb narrating the main characters as she really did become, Audrey, Violet and Bert. I would definitely prefer listening to this rather than read the print version as I enjoyed hearing and experiencing all the emotions performed so well by the narrator.
I would recommend this to all listeners, probably more so to women, as it is an excellent story with a great theme of love over fear through out. Thanks to christianaudio.com Reviewer's Program for this copy.
- Wonderful Narration, fun historical information, so-so story.
The historical aspects of this book were intriguing. I loved learning about some of the history and behind-the-scenes looks into Hollywood and "Gone With the Wind" in particular. However, I felt that the story and characters were a bit predictable. I was disappointed that the gospel didn't play a role at all in the character's lives. The beginning of the story seemed a bit slow, but then the pace sped up drastically as months and even years are skipped.
Overall, I found the book to be entertaining, but mostly because of the fantastic narrator. Ann Marie Lee, from the very beginning had a lovely voice and then I was pleasantly surprised at her ability to distinguish the character's dialogue by the accents she gave them- while staying true to the descriptions in the text. Violet had a southern drawl seemingly straight out of "Steel Magnolias" and Audrey's deeper thicker voice was perfect. Lee even provided French accents and perfect French for additional characters. Had I been reading the book, I might not have finished it, but listening to the audio recording proved to be delightful.
Overall, I do recommend this book for anyone looking for an entertaining reading of a moderately entertaining story.
*I received a copy of this work from christianaudio.com in exchange for my honest review.
- Sweet story by one of my new favorite authors!
Just finished listening to Stars Over Sunset Boulevard. Not only did I love the story, but the narrator was outstanding. Susan Meissner has scored another winner with this book!
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