Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Echoes of Old Hollywood by Susan Meissner, Author of Stars Over Sunset Boulevard + Giveaway! (US only)

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard
Susan Meissner

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.

The Echoes of Old Hollywood

I’ve long been a devotee of history, especially when the focus is on ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. I like mulling over how the past informs the present and weaving that into a story. History shows us what we value, what we fear, what we are willing to fight for, and what we don’t want to lose. The last eight books I’ve written have been a blending of what was and what is right now. The newest, Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, is a novel about two studio secretaries who become best friends on the 1939 movie set of Gone with the Wind, dovetailed with the appearance of Scarlett O’Hara’s curtain-dress hat in a Hollywood vintage clothing shop seventy-five years later.

When I was writing Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, I had the opportunity to walk the lots at Culver Studios, which seven decades ago was the very location where Gone with the Wind was filmed. I stood in what had been producer David Selznick’s office, and poked my head into the sound stage where the interior of Tara had been shot. I also stood just feet away from the little white bungalows where Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, and Olivia de Havilland slept when they stayed overnight on the set. The back lot where all the exterior shots had been filmed had long since been sold off, and now there are modern, new sound stages interspersed among the old ones. The studio is active and busy and the echoes of Gone With the Wind are for the most part gone, and yet when I gazed at the white-columned mansion featured in the movie’s opening credits—the one that many mistakenly think is the exterior of Tara; it’s not, it’s the administration building at Selznick International—I can believe myself transported back to 1939. Someone has gone to a lot trouble to keep the mansion in its lovely, old-Hollywood state. An effort has been made to make time stand still visually, because the mansion is something we don’t want to lose. It’s the proof that we want to hold onto something that lasts, even if it’s just a memory.

Old Hollywood, for me, exists in snippets and shadows. It’s there, but it hovers over the hype and hoopla of the present-day vibe, which can seem a bit superficial. Movies are made on location now, for the most part, and you just don’t see the actors walking around on Sunset Boulevard or having lunch at The Brown Derby. There isn’t the same kind of glamour and class without the streetcars, fancy nightclubs and men in fedoras. You can get a sense of the past at Union Station and when you drive up into the hills and are surrounded by darling stucco houses, and in the vintage shops, but it’s easily missed if you aren’t looking for it.

But if you are one the lookout for it, one of the lovelier things about books and fashion and the other arts, is that they can so easily transport us to another time, another place. We can’t stay in the past forever, of course, but we can enjoy every nuance of a look back, and remember each mental minute we spend there with fondness.


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Stars Over Sunset Boulevard—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is answer Susan's question in the comments below:
If you could spend one day in another time and place, what would it be?
I wouldn't have necessarily wanted to live in the Renaissance Era, but would love to experience it for a day! Is that a clichéd answer? lol 

Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Susan and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Suzy Missirlian PR and Penguin Books!
Giveaway ends April 7th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!