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The Garden on Sunset: A Novel of Golden-Era Hollywood

The Garden on Sunset: A Novel of Golden-Era Hollywood

4.1 120
by Martin Turnbull

Have you ever wanted to climb into a time machine and visit Hollywood during its heyday?

Right before talking pictures slug Tinsel Town in the jaw, a luminous silent screen star converts her private estate into the Garden of Allah Hotel. The lush grounds soon become a haven for Hollywood hopefuls to meet, drink, and revel through the night. George Cukor is in


Have you ever wanted to climb into a time machine and visit Hollywood during its heyday?

Right before talking pictures slug Tinsel Town in the jaw, a luminous silent screen star converts her private estate into the Garden of Allah Hotel. The lush grounds soon become a haven for Hollywood hopefuls to meet, drink, and revel through the night. George Cukor is in the pool, Tallulah Bankhead is at the bar, and Scott Fitzgerald is sneaking off to a bungalow with Sheilah Graham while Madame Alla Nazimova keeps watch behind her lace curtains.

But the real story of the Garden of Allah begins with its first few residents, three kids on the brink of something big.

Marcus Adler has a lot to prove after his father catches him and the police chief's son with their pants down. He flees Pennsylvania for Hollywood with his mouth shut and his eyes open, and begins to write the lines all those starlets will say out loud. Can a smart, sensitive guy find his own voice in a town that's just learning to talk?

Kathryn Massey's childhood was a grinding routine of auditions, but she couldn't care less about being a movie star. When she takes off with her typewriter, determined to become a newspaper reporter, she finds that breaking into the boys' club is tougher than breaking free of her bossy mother. To make it in this town, she'll need some serious moxie.

Gwendolyn Brick is a sweet Southern beauty who's come a long way to try her luck on the big screen. She's hoping the same succulent lips the guys want to kiss will land her more than a bit part on a casting couch. She's going to need some help keeping everyone in line.

Nobody gets a free pass in Hollywood, but a room at the Garden on Sunset can get your foot in the door.

"The Garden on Sunset" is the first in installment in the Hollywood's Garden of Allah saga, a series of historical novels set in Hollywood's heyday. If you like authentic and richly-detailed history, compelling and memorable characters, and seeing fiction and history seamlessly woven together, then you'll love Martin Turnbull's authentic portrayal of the City of Angels.
Flip through the pages to see Hollywood's history come to life before your eyes.

Martin Turnbull's Garden of Allah novels have been optioned for the screen by film & television producer, Tabrez Noorani.


Your Garden of Allah novels are rich in the history and lore of classic era Hollywood. What was your original inspiration?

I came across an online article about the Garden of Allah Hotel, which opened on Sunset Boulevard in 1927, just before “The Jazz Singer” ushered in the talkies, and closed in 1959, the year that “Ben Hur” announced the last hurrah of the studio system. The Garden’s residents witnessed the unfolding evolution of Hollywood, and actively participated in it.

How has writing these novels changed your view of this golden age that we perceive as the greatest era of film production?

L.A. was a much less densely populated city. Consequently, all movie industry workers were far more likely to know each other. People moved from MGM to Paramount to Twentieth Century-Fox to RKO to Warner Bros. Two or three degrees of separation were usually enough!

Why did you not go the safe route and change the names of the major players to suit your story?

The whole point of recounting the history of Hollywood through the eyes of the Garden’s residents was because so many celebrities lived there. Harpo Marx and Sergei Rachmaninoff were neighbors, F. Scott Fitzgerald played charades with Dorothy Parker, Errol Flynn got drunk, Ginger Rogers was always looking for a tennis partner, and Bogart courted Bacall. I figured: Why tell it if I’m going to change the names?

Do you think stories set in old Hollywood are becoming more popular because of Turner Classic Movies?

Yes! TCM has produced a whole new audience for them. Consequently there is a greater interest in the time and place from which these movies sprung.

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Martin Turnbull
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Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels , #1
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Meet the Author

Martin Turnbull has worked as a private tour guide showing both locals and out-of-towners the movie studios, Beverly Hills mansions, Hollywood hills vistas and where all the bodies are buried. For nine years, he has also volunteered as an historical walking tour docent with the Los Angeles Conservancy. He worked for a summer as a guide at the Warner Bros. movie studios in Burbank showing movie fans through the sound stages where Bogie and Bacall, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and James Cagney created some of Hollywood’s classic motion pictures. From an early age, Martin was enchanted with old movies from Hollywood’s golden era–from the dawn of the talkies in the late 1920s to the dusk of the studio system in the late 1950s–and has spent many, many a happy hour watching the likes of Garland, Gable, Crawford, Garbo, Grant, Miller, Kelly, Astaire, Rogers, Turner, Welles go through their paces. When he discovered the wonderful world of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs, his love of reading merged with his love of movies and his love of history to produce a three-headed hydra gobbling up everything in his path. Ever since then, he’s been on a mission to learn and share as much as he can about this unique time. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Martin moved to Los Angeles in the mid-90s.

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The Garden on Sunset: A Novel of Golden-Era Hollywood 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 120 reviews.
Dennis_R More than 1 year ago
I just finished “The Garden on Sunset” and I am well into the second book in this exciting series "The Trouble with Scarlett". I loved every page. Having grown up in this area in the 50's, and with my work with the Los Angeles Conservancy it really came to life for me. I could picture every site the author mentioned. From the movie studios, to the Coconut Grove, from Downtown Los Angeles to riding the Red Car to Long Beach, every page is alive with the sights and sounds of Los Angeles and Hollywood in the early 1930's. Add into this a great story of three individuals trying their best to make it big in Hollywood while living at the Garden of Allah Apartments and encountering the likes of Joan Crawford, Tallulah Bankhead, the great Garbo, Ramon Navarro, George Cukor and the very mysterious Madame Alla Nazimova who one of our characters had a visit from during his childhood, and you have an exciting story of this wonderful and colorful by-gone era. So many wonderful memories were brought up while reading your book thanks to Mr. Turnbull's detailed research and colorful writing style. Anyone who enjoys old Hollywood and the stories it holds or anyone who just wants to read about what it was like here in California during the early days of the talkies and the glamorous like the studio system promised will enjoy this story. I am looking forward to more adventures with the three people we come to meet in "The Garden on Sunset".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love books that pique your interest enough for further research you will love this series. Every paragraph has a hollywood secret or historical factoid about the glory days of the film industry. The storyline is interesting and the characters likeable and real. I learned so many interesting facts about people and places from holkywood's golden age. I was on wikipedia and google 30 times to follow up on information threaded throughout storyline. A fun light read but with a tight plot and i cant wait to read the next in series!
msfanglet More than 1 year ago
Fast paced and a little scrambled just like the ages of the main characters. Its a fun, summer beach read. No complicated plot lines, no terribly naughty scenes and easy to like everyone in the book. I have to admit I kept waiting for something to happen, but it never quite did. The couple of great scenes were condensed so the drama was kind of lost. Not sure I liked it enough to pursue more about them. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hop on a bus to the land of stars and bars. The dream of hitting it big, your name in lights, fame, fortune and then what....the decline and fall. The fate of longevity eludes the young and hopeful until they meet their day of reckoning. Life is a vapor. Fame a ghost.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I grew up watching old movies and love them still. This book captures personalities and events from the golden age of films. It was such fun to read. The three main characters were charming and i hope they will continue to be part of the trilogy. If you enjoy old films, Hollywood history and engaging characters, you will love this book.
chiheatherlove More than 1 year ago
Great Glamorous Read! I read this one on the recommendation of a friend. What a fun era to read about - Gable, Crawford, Garbo is right! The story is told through the point of view of three friends on the cusp of the first "talkies" coming out in Hollywood and they all three chance upon each other in the Garden of Allah Hotel... flappers and the party are raging while the three friends try to make their way up the Hollywood ladders that are just within their grasp. Kathryn (LA native who grew up with a mother pushing her to become an actress) tries to make it as a reporter, Gwendolyn (Southern beauty avoiding booze after growing up suffering from her Mother's drinking problem) tries to trade on her good looks and become an actress and Marcus (McKeesport, PA State Swimming Champ thrown out of his boyhood home by his father) realizes he's a writer and searches to find himself. Who hasn't been drawn to this era of Hollywood Glamour? Looking forward to the next one that starts (hopefully with the same characters) as Gone With the Wind movie is the story on everyones' tongues!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looking forward to the next 3 novels.
MimiKG More than 1 year ago
Did you ever read a book that held your interest through every page. This is one of those books for me. It wasn't a mystery, intrigue, romance, etc. It was just well written and brought me to a time in our history that was fascinating. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this book. The author made you feel as if you were there in the Garden! A real page turner. You won't be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book even though I'm not an old movie fan. The characters are well developed and it was fun read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a quick, easy read with likable characters and a pleasing plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an interesting book about old Hollywood era. Approximately 277 pages. I very much enjoyed it. Thank you Author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I grew up loving the old Hollywood movies. What a treat to read about the people who made them. This story about three young people who have come to Hollywood to make their fortunes is full of behind the scenes gossip and tidbits about the great and near great of the time. Seems carefully researched about the era of the beginning of talkies. The three characters in this book are charming and wonderfully naive as they learn about life in Hollywood while pursuing their dreams. Personally, I can't wait to see what happens to them all as Gone With the Wind is being filmed. Better yet, there are two more books after that! Thanks for the inside look at this wonderful period in filmdom's history. The beginning of it all and the people who brought it to us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lovely and addicting novel. Moves quickly and grabs hold of your imagination.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you can't handle same sex bedroom activity this book is not for you. I skipped those pages. I don't even read straight people bedroom activity. There's too many characters in the book to follow bounces around to much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait to start the2nd book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellant read! Enjoyable and highly entertaining. This book is, however, outside my usual genre - mystery, thriller, etc. Yet I found it captivating. Am looking forward to the rest of the series. The writer has done a wonderful job of placing the reader right smack in the middle of 1930s Hollywood in a surreal and fun way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting look at the early days of Hollywood. Easy reading with decent amount of character development. Would like to have had a bit more "sizzle" though...came to the end and it was just over. Not sure if I will go further in the series, because of mediocrity. Worth reading, just not enough to make me want more.