this was inspired by my visit here:
setting the scene:
it's now June 1935, our hero LOTTIE LYONS [a smart and witty young journalist, age 23, on the New York Daily Dispatch], has taken the train back from NYC to L.A. to be a bridesmaid (unwillingly) at her school friend's wedding. JULIETTE RIPLEY (the school friend) is an heiress to a railway fortune and is marrying JAMES MICHAELIDES, a Greek-American whose family is uncomfortably close to the Mob (or shipping, whichever you prefer).
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JAMES (soon-to-be bridegroom) has been having an affair with EMILY DAVIES, an actor/singer/whatever with a view to making it big in Hollywood. Her roommate MARLA TENNANT is a top tennis coach and LOTTIE used to room with Marla and Emily at a boarding house in NYC.
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MARLA just got a job in L.A. - and EMILY has come along for the ride (but has a secret motive).

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okay, now here's the part where they all converge at VILLA CARLOTTA


“Actually, Mrs Lyons, I’d like to steal Lottie if I may. Some friends of ours are arriving from New York this evening and checking into their new apartment building. I said we’d help.”

Raising an eyebrow at the thought of Marla needing any help to do anything, even with Emily in tow, Lottie laughed. But she did miss her friends and she’d love to see their new place. It sounded wonderful.

It was called Villa Carlotta, and it was built just nine years ago, in Hollywood, for people who worked in the movie studios nearby. This was a big deal in a town which, for the most part, still distrusted movie folks as unreliable. It was not unusual to see the sign: “No Actors, No Dogs” in the lobby of buildings with rooms to rent.

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Apparently Marion Davies had an apartment there. As did George Cukor who directed one of her mother’s favorite films - “A Bill of Divorcement”, starring John Barrymore and Katharine Hepburn, based on the play by Clemence Dane.

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“Shall we go then, Lyons?” James was itching to see Emily, it was all too obvious and slightly embarrassing.

“Will you be safe driving back in that?” said her father, looking at the Austin Seven.

“Perfectly,” said James, already behind the driver’s wheel.

Getting into the car, and settling back against the passenger seat, Lottie waved at her parents and promised she’d be back by midnight. She didn’t wait around to see their shocked faces at the concept of out-until-midnight. It was then that she realized they had no idea how she’d lived in Manhattan. And how she’d live again. She was determined to go back. Even if that meant facing a New York winter.

Driving as fast as the motor could go, James got them to Hollywood in under forty minutes.

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The Villa Carlotta was beautiful, a true Hollywood melange of styles: - Italian-style wrought iron Juliet balconies, floor-to-ceiling wooden French windows which let in the Hollywood Hills breezes, Spanish Revival flourishes in the stone and brick design and a cavernous entry hall which wouldn’t have been out of place in a Germanic baronial manor house.

Parking the Austin on Tamarind under a palm tree, James jumped out of the car and grabbed Lottie’s hand. She tensed a little at the mixed emotions. She could sense James’ surging excitement at seeing Emily, while also feeling his strong hand gripping hers. Bittersweet, really, she guessed, and then let his hand go as they approached the large wooden front door. He rang the bell and a uniformed attendant opened.


Lottie realized James didn’t know Emily’s last name. She took charge. “I’m Lottie Lyons and this is James Michaelides. Our friends Marla Tennant and Emily Davies - have they arrived from New York yet? They were due here today.”

There was a high-pitched squeal from someone lying on one of the sofas by the piano. James had spotted Emily and rushed over to cover her in kisses.

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“I see they have,” said Lottie, irritated. She was going to greet Emily but saw she was otherwise engaged. “Is Marla upstairs?”

The attendant, whose name was Vanessa, gave her the apartment number and indicated the elevator. It was one of those elevators that you operated yourself, so it took Lottie a moment to locate the floor buttons. It moved slowly and gracefully through the elevator shaft and deposited her on the third floor. She made her way down the hallway to apartment 308 and knocked. The door opened and there was Marla, exhausted.

“Did you do all the driving?” said Lottie, when Marla had mixed her a drink in the kitchenette. Marla didn’t even bother to reply, she just snorted.

“It’s really lovely, Marla,” continued Lottie, looking out the open French windows and into the courtyard below, lit up with candles. You could hear someone playing Chopin on piano in one of the ground floor rooms and several residents were leaning out of their windows talking to each other across the way, while smoking, wearing not much more than satin slips or cotton robes.

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Villa Carlotta looked so very Hollywood.