‘Dreams really can come true’
What a wonderful story Alli Sinclair has created in The Cinema at Starlight Creek. At its heart this is a story about following your dreams and your heart. It’s also about love, friendship, heartache, community and change and about having and being a voice for others. This is a story I’ve been anticipating since I heard about it nearly 7 months ago. It’s a dual timeline narrative, which is one of my favourite genres, blending historical with modern day stories. It has the most delightful cover, one of my favourites, especially as it tells the story so well.
I was transported to 1950s Hollywood so completely, I could see it all playing out in my head, just like a movie. Lena Lee, Hollywood starlet’s story was a very powerful one about a woman who followed her dreams and fought for what she believed in as well as giving others less fortunate a voice and paving the way for more equality between men and women in the movie world. If we think things are hard and less than equal now, you can imagine how hard things were then. Lena Lee gives us a voice, a real person to travel with and discover what it was like for women back then, especially a woman with integrity and a kind heart like Lena had. Though things have changed a great deal, things are still much the same around the world for women, we need people like Lena Lee to keep fighting for change and equality.
I had very little knowledge about the film industry in the 50s, yes, I’d heard of the hunt for communists, the Hollywood blacklist and the Hollywood 10. People who were jailed and or barred from the industry, most times for no good reason. I might have heard something about the censorship placed on the movie business, but had no idea how much influence, the Hays Code had on what film producers were able to put in their movies. I found this to be a very interesting part of the story. Now days these people would have a heart attack at what is played out on the screen.
Now cut to 1994 in small town Queensland, a town called Starlight Creek and a run down art deco movie theatre. We meet Claire who has been tasked with finding and acquiring the use of one of the last cinemas designed by a female architect Amelia Elliot so as they can continue filming a mini series. Claire has big dreams of making her own documentaries one day, and she is working her way up through the industry, this is a make or break time for her. Even now chauvinism is rife in many industries, (I should know, I’m in the mining industry), and Claire has to work harder to prove herself while up against many odds.
We meet Hattie, a strong and stubborn older woman who owns the cinema and her nephew Luke, neither of who want to help Claire with her plans.
I loved Hattie, she seemed like such a generous soul, one who had much to teach Claire and Luke. I loved Claire whose determination and belief that dreams could come true and you could have everything you wanted, were in direct opposition to Lukes ideas and beliefs. I loved getting to know Luke and when he opened up to Claire about his dreams, I was sure Alli Sinclair had been looking inside my head, I could totally relate to his dreams as they are in essence my own. If only he (and myself) could believe in them and trust they can be made real.
As well as the history, the icons, the dreams, the role models, there is of course the romance. Both Lena Lee and Claire encounter men who make them question their paths, though the outcome for these relationships is quite different for each woman. I loved both storylines, but part of me loved Lena Lee’s a fraction more. Everything Lena went through felt so intense and there’s a few scenes that made me teary (just a warning).
This is a wonderful story and I enjoyed every minute of it, it definitely was worth the 7 months of waiting to finally get to read a copy.
Thanks to Harlequin Australia, NetGalley and Alli Sinclair for providing me with a copy to read and review.
Available 20th May 2019 in Australia and 5th November 2019 elsewhere. Preorder now!