Title – The Garden on Sunset
Author – Martin Turnbull
Genre – Historical Fiction
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 Martin Turnbull’s series of historical novels set during Hollywood’s golden age.
When the Hollywood Red Car lurched to a stop, Marcus Adler pulled open his eyes to find a wheezing old conductor staring right at him.
Marcus looked around. He was the only passenger left. “Where are we?”
The conductor jerked his head toward the door. “End of the line.”
“Don’t suppose you know where 8152 Sunset Boulevard is?”
“What do I look like? A street map?”
Marcus took that for a no, picked up his cardboard suitcase, and climbed down to the street. A line of rickety stores huddled on the south side of Sunset Boulevard up to where the asphalt ended; a sign near the curb read LOS ANGELES CITY LIMIT. Past the sign, west of Crescent Heights Boulevard, Sunset disintegrated into a wandering dirt road. A knot of horses stood in the shade of a tree with thin, dusty leaves Marcus had never seen back in Pennsylvania. One of the horses raised its head to study him for a moment, then returned to grazing.
“Hey!” The conductor hung from the streetcar’s doorway. “8152 Sunset? Try thataway.” He pointed toward the horses.
Eighty-one fifty-two Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California. It was an address Marcus had repeated over and over to himself since that time when he was eleven years old, swollen grotesquely with diphtheria in the hospital. His parents had written Madame Alla Nazimova a letter at his request, never thinking that a motion picture star so unspeakably exotic, so stupefyingly glamorous would respond. But she did. And she came to call on him, a diaphanous vision in lavender tulle. How kind she was, and so humble. Surely she would remember him. How many bedside visits had she made to children inflated with diphtheria in the middle of Pennsylvania? How many did she look in the eye and say, “If you ever come to Hollywood, I want you to come visit me. My house is very large, and I have plenty of room for you. I live at 8152 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California.”
And now he was almost there.
Marcus crossed the deserted intersection and headed toward a nest of two-story bungalows that loomed behind a tall white wall. They were freshly painted; the sheen caught the light of the setting sun as it descended into the dirt track.
As he made his way along the wall, an unbroken trumpet note sliced the still air. What will Nazimova say when she answers the door? he wondered
The trumpet player ran out of steam and a thunderclap of applause erupted. Maybe this wasn’t a good time. He peeked around the corner and looked up at a twelve-foot-high sign.
GARDEN OF ALLAH HOTEL
8152 Sunset Boulevard
Marcus set his suitcase down in the dust and stared at the gold letters of Allah. He didn’t expect Sunset Boulevard to be a dirt track and he certainly didn’t expect to find a hotel sign out front of Alla Nazimova’s movie star mansion.
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A lifelong love of travel, history, and sharing his knowledge with others has led Martin Turnbull down a long path to authorship. Having made the move to the United States from Melbourne, Australia in the mid-90s, Martin staked his claim in the heart of Los Angeles. His background in travel allowed him to work as a private tour guide showing off the alluring vistas, mansions, boulevards, and backlots of the Hollywood scene. With stints in local historical guiding with the Los Angeles Conservancy as well as time on the Warner Bros. movie lot, Martin found himself armed with the kind of knowledge that would fly off the pages of his future works. As a longtime fan of Hollywood’s golden era and old films, Martin decided it was time to marry his knowledge with his passions and breathe life back into this bygone world.
The product of his passions burst forth in the form of the Hollywood’s Garden of Allah books, a series of historical fiction novels set during the golden age of Hollywood: 1927 to 1959. Exploring the evolution of Hollywood’s most famous and glamorous era through the lives of its residents, these stories take place in and around the real-life Garden of Allah Hotel on iconic Sunset Boulevard. Although Martin’s heart belongs to history, his energy remains in the present, continuing to put his passions on paper and beyond.
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