Did you ever want to time travel back to Hollywood in the 1930s? Do you inhale the films of Hollywood's Golden Age? Do you ever wonder what Hollywood was truly like at that time? If you can answer "yes" to at least one of these questions, then you must read Martin Turnbull's "The Garden On Sunset: A Novel of Golden-Era Hollywood (Hollywood's Garden of Allah Novels, Book One)."
In "The Garden on Sunset," Martin Turnbull introduces us to Kathryn, Gwendolyn, and Marcus, three 20-something odd socks who fall in with each other through happenstance: all three find themselves living at the Garden of Allah Hotel in Los Angeles.
Kathryn wants to be a journalist, despite the frantic push into acting by her stage mother. Gwendolyn, from Florida when Florida was the old South, wants to be an actress, but finds herself fighting off mashers as the Cigarette Girl at the Coconut Grove. Marcus, who was kicked out of his Pennsylvania home and family after his father caught him making out with his boyfriend, wants to write screen plays. He fled to the Garden of Allah at 8152 Sunset Boulevard because this is the address Madam Alla Nazimova had given him when she visited him years before. Her kindness to a small boy with diphtheria, and her message that he should visit her at her home, has carried him through his father's betrayal and it is the only place he knew he would be welcome.
Unfortunately for Marcus, Madam Nazimova has sold her mansion, and it has become the Garden of Allah Hotel. The three young people meet at a bash celebrating the Hotel's Opening Night (which happens to coincide with Marcus's visit). For the next three years, we follow them as they deal with bootlegged liquor and a time when unwed pregnancies were scandalous, and loving someone of the same sex could end a career and send you to prison.
While surviving their own battles with the restrictions of the times, the three friends are befriended by Talulah Bankhead, Greta Garbo, George Cukor, and Ramon Navarro, to name just a few. Madam Nazimova does finally appear, and we learn why she befriended Marcus when he was a young boy. The friends also find themselves tangled up with Louella Parsons, William Randolph Hearst, and Marion Davies.
Turnbull brings the "Golden Age of Hollywood" to life with the same type of humor, insight and love used by Armistad Maupin in "Tales of the City," his homage to 1970s San Francisco, centered around a group of iconoclastic, loving, odd-sock friends.
"The Garden on Sunset" is an exceptional book. If you love time traveling while sitting in your comfortable, reading place, you will think so too.
Print Length: 313 pages
Publication Date: January 16, 2014
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC