11 Scandalous Novels That Illuminate the Golden Age of Hollywood

Hollywood has long been the land of dreams and epic storytelling, but many stories of scandal, betrayal, and mystery remain behind the curtain. It’s no wonder that novels inspired by the gossip and intrigue of Tinseltown are so exciting to read. Travel to the golden age of Hollywood with these enchanting, glittering, and sometimes dark tales behind the scenes of your favorite silver-screen legends.

West of Sunset
by Stewart O'Nan

As the Jazz Age ended, F. Scott Fitzgerald was financially ruined. Like many others, he traveled to Hollywood to find new success, and his dramatic days on the MGM lot are vividly depicted in WEST OF SUNSET. Filled with many classic Hollywood icons, this is a portrait of a beloved artist as he struggles to reclaim his identity.

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures
by Emma Straub

In this richly drawn and redolent novel, a teenaged girl escapes Depression-era Wisconsin for the bright lights of Hollywood. After being discovered by a studio mogul, she is transformed into an exotic, sultry starlet, and struggles to balance fame and personal happiness during the golden age of Hollywood.

Girl About Town
by Adam Shankman and Laura L. Sullivan

Adam Shankman, director of hit movies like “Hairspray,” knows a thing or two about the drama behind the screen. In his sharp romantic mystery, Hollywood’s latest It Girl with a dark past and a playboy tycoon find themselves in a mystery filled with twists and turns. Spoiler alert: bullets and sparks fly.

by Joseph Kanon

Ben arrives in Hollywood after the end of World War II and is shocked to discover that his successful brother has killed himself. But nothing is what it seems in the movie business, as Ben discovers, especially as the fear of communism casts a long shadow.

by Joyce Carol Oates

One of America’s most acclaimed novelists meets the most iconic of Hollywood legends in this multifaceted work about a complex woman. BLONDE explores Marilyn Monroe’s troubled and ultimately tragic life, and the manner in which she was exploited by Hollywood.

The Garden on Sunset
by Martin Turnbull

Martin Turnbull’s glittering novel transports you to a bygone era of flappers and boozy jazz clubs. Three young, idealistic dreamers escape their gray lives to the glitz and glamour of the roaring twenties. They room at the glorious (and real) Garden of Allah Hotel, where Hollywood hopefuls and stylish stars mingle, drink, dance, and love.

The Black Dahlia
by James Ellroy

One of the most bone-chilling mysteries of Hollywood remains unsolved today. In this fictional account, two obsessed police officers begin a fervent investigation when the mutilated body of an aspiring actress is found in Los Angeles. Together, they search for justice for the Black Dahlia and explore the darkest corners of Hollywood.

The Love of the Last Tycoon
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished final novel is a searing and sharp-eyed look at Hollywood as a land of lost dreams, paranoia, and tragedy. A young studio mogul struggles to survive in the world of cutthroat screenwriters, producers, and actors while also searching for love and true happiness.

All the Stars in the Heavens
by Adriana Trigiani

A young nun is forced to leave her convent and lands a job as starlet Loretta Young’s secretary just as the actress falls for movie dreamboat (and married) Clark Gable. Together, the two women navigate decades of adventure, passion, scandal, and fierce friendship in this epic and masterful tale based on true events.

The Forgotten Flapper
by Laini Giles

A glamorous ghost story, this novel features Olive Thomas, a star of the silent screen who helped harken the flapper craze of the 1920s. Yet between the glitz, parties, and drinking, darkness lurks in her life until her mysterious and scandalous death at age 25.

The Prince of Beverly Hills
by Stuart Woods

Rick Barron, the “Prince of Beverly Hills,” is assigned to security for Tinseltown’s biggest studios. With his charisma and affability, stars and gossip columnists adore him—until he stumbles across a murderous cover-up that threatens the studio.