I recently finished Hollywood Boulevard by Janyce Stefan-Cole. This novel was released in April, though my copy was an uncorrected proof provided for review. The cover is a befittingly poolside picture, replete with palm trees:
Hollywood Boulevard is broken down into two parts, and is a very meandering, introspective look at retired actress Ardennes Thrush - who retired before achieving her full potential.
Ardennes Thrush is a literate, intelligent individual who hasn't really been doing much of anything since she retired from acting. As far as exactly why she retired is something that remains unclear - by the end of the novel, it seems like she lost herself during a nervous breakdown because of the dissipation of her first marriage. (That is my interpretation, however, and there are certainly others that can be made.) Ardennes loves acting, the craft of it, the ability to lose herself in a character - and from the remarks of other characters, it is clear that she is good at it.
To be honest, the novel is a little boring - but it's possible this is on purpose. Here is this glamorous former movie star, hanging out in her hotel room and spying on her neighbors. People who are trying to be invisible, even when they're quietly suffering a nervous breakdown, are often kind of boring.
Then, she gets a stalker, which makes things slightly more interesting. And she commits adultery, which is kind of surprising. And her husband betrays her, which has been glaringly obvious for awhile, and is therefore no surprise at all.
Then, she gets kidnapped, which makes things slightly more interesting. And due to her slight craziness, it is interesting to see what other character is actually even more crazy. (I won't say who, because that takes half of the fun out of the novel.)
The end of the novel is perhaps the best part, with its' did-she-or-didn't-she-find-herself ending.
Despite the slight tedium of the novel, I did enjoy many aspects of it. In particular, it is obvious that the writer is herself a huge fan of reading. Reading the words of someone else who is a fan of literature can often be a beautiful experience, and reading this novel does sometimes inspire the reader to devour great works of literature.
It is difficult for me to make a recommendation for this novel, because with its' slightly boring tone, it is definitely not everyone's cup of tea. I was told I should rate my reviews, though, so reading this novel falls somewhere between enforced reading for school and laughing dinosaurs (which sounds kind of creepy, but think of friendly, animated dinosaurs, like in Land of the Lost).