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April 30 , 2011

The Trouble with Scarlett: A Novel of Golden-Era Hollywood


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

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Summer, 1936: "Gone with the Wind," Margaret Mitchell’s first novel, takes the world by storm. Everyone in Hollywood knows Civil War pictures don’t make a dime, but renegade producer David O. Selznick snaps up the movie rights and suddenly America has just one question: Who will play Scarlett O’Hara?

When Gwendolyn Brick gets her hands on the book, the clouds part and the angels sing the Hallelujah Chorus. Only a real Southern belle can play Scarlett—and didn’t her mama raise her on stories of Sherman’s march and those damned Yankees? After years of slinging cigarettes at the Cocoanut Grove, Gwendolyn finds a new calling: to play Scarlett. But she’s not the only gal in town with a deep-fried accent. She’s going to have to stand out bigger than a hoop skirt at a Twelve Oaks barbeque to win that role.

Marcus Adler is the golden boy of Cosmopolitan Pictures, the studio William Randolph Hearst started for his mistress, Marion Davies. When Marcus’ screenplay becomes Davies’ first hit, he’s invited to Hearst Castle for the weekend. The kid who was kicked out of Pennsylvania gets to rub shoulders with Myrna Loy, Winston Churchill, and Katharine Hepburn—but when the trip turns fiasco, he starts sinking fast. He needs a new story, real big and real soon. So when F. Scott Fitzgerald moves into the Garden of Allah with a $1000-a-week MGM contract but no idea how to write a screenplay, Marcus says, “Pleased to meetcha. We need to talk.”

When Selznick asks George Cukor to direct "Gone with the Wind," it’s the scoop of the year for Kathryn Massey, the Hollywood Reporter’s newest columnist. But dare she publish it? Scoops are the exclusive domain of the Hearst papers’ all-powerful, all-knowing, all-bitchy Louella Parsons. Nobody in Hollywood has ever dared to outscoop Louella—until now. When Louella comes back low and dirty, Kathryn’s boss lets her dangle like a scarecrow in a summer storm. Then the telephone rings. It’s Ida Koverman, Louis B. Mayer’s personal secretary, and she has a proposition she’d like to make.

"The Trouble with Scarlett" is the second 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.


What was your original inspiration?

I came across an 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 when “Ben Hur” announced the last hurrah of the studio system. The Garden’s residents witnessed the unfolding evolution of Hollywood.

How has writing these novels changed your view of this golden age?

L.A. was a much less densely populated city. People moved from MGM to Paramount to Twentieth Century-Fox to RKO to Warner Bros. Three degrees of separation were usually enough!

Why did you not change the names of the major players to suit your story?

The whole point of recounting the history of Hollywood was because so many celebrities lived the Garden of Allah. 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. 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 greater interest in the time and place from which these movies sprung.

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