BOOK CLUB: The Cinema at Starlight Creek

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Author: Alli Sinclair
ISBN: 9781489256614
RRP: $29.99
Publication Date: 20 May 2019
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

I have been reading Alli Sinclair for a few years now, and I still plan to get back to Luna Tango one of these days.


Alli Sinclair manages to weave dual timelines into two compelling love stories featuring strong women who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves and fight for their place in their chosen industry.

The Cinema at Starlight Creek features two strong female leads, decades apart and at opposite ends of the world. This one almost classifies for two historical time periods with the latter day timeline taking place in 1994, already a lifetime ago.

Sinclair opens her story with Claire Montgomery in small town Queensland in 1994. Claire is the location manager for Wattle Films, currently working on a TV mini-series about the life of 1930s architect Amelia Elliott. Part of what cemented her promotion was gaining approval to shoot in one of Elliott’s Art Deco cinemas, and shooting is going well until one of the actors is caught behaving inappropriately and the company are run out of town by an understandably irate cinema owner.

Claire is left in the terrible position of having to find a new location at the eleventh hour with no room for failure, but hey no pressure. It doesn’t help that she is overwhelmingly outnumbered on the gender scale and fighting to prove herself when there are those within the production that don’t believe she should be in the job, mainly due to gender.

Luck would have it that there is another Amelia Elliott cinema in a nearby town and Claire heads off to check it out with hope in her heart and everything crossed that it’s suitable, and she can secure the use of it for the series.

1994 doesn’t seem that long ago to me, but it was a time before social media and before widespread mobile phone access. It was a time when the world seemed a little bigger and it was possible to be uncontactable for periods of time.

Starlight Creek is a small town and it has that small town feel but it doesn’t have that strong sense of community and it isn’t always welcoming of strangers. Claire has a tough task ahead of her trying to convince the owners to allow them access but she builds a rapport with cinema owner Hattie Fitzpatrick rather quickly.

Lena Lee is our Hollywood heroine, working in an industry that loves a looker leading lady but doesn’t respect the women in the industry. She struggles to get a break because she started on a Hollywood career path a little older, and leading ladies have to be young and stunning.

This timeline gives us insight into what went on behind the scenes in Hollywood at a time when censorship was rife and studios had a lot of control over the off screen lives of their A-listers.

Lena Lee came to her career path late and then when she finally got her big break she found that it didn’t fulfill her the way she expected, she wanted to be able to use the influence of her celebrity to make changes in the industry so it was a safer and fairer industry for women.

The Cinema at Starlight Creek isn’t all strong women fighting for their place in a male dominated career arena; it’s also romance with bad timing and learning to follow your dreams. Sometimes it all seems too hard but if you can find that first small step to set you in the right direction you can make big things happen.

If that’s not enough there’s also a mystery to unravel, classic movies to ponder and locations to fall in love with.

Alli Sinclair you have done it again. A beautiful story that I finished with tears in my eyes, and the desire to go out and do some research on Art Deco cinemas and their architects.

The Cinema at Starlight Creek is available now through Harlequin Mira and where all good books are sold.

Alli Sinclair can be contacted on Alli Sinclair.com and Facebook.

Thanks to Harlequin Mira 15 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Cinema at Starlight Creek so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

15 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Cinema at Starlight Creek

  1. I knew this book would be awesome and I was right. I loved reading about Lena Lee and the cinema. Such a beautiful story.

  2. By coincidence this month I read two books that shared memories of the movie making industry. The Electric Hotel and this one, The Cinema at Starlight Creek. However there the similarities largely stop.
    The first book I found to be quite a depressing and insular read. On the other hand, The Cinema at Starlight Creek by Alli Sinclair and published by Harlequin, was an absolute delight. Not only was it engaging and entertaining, it also put forth some strong, empowering views about being true to yourself, and what it takes to follow your dreams. I enjoyed it very much.

    The story follows two timelines and the leading characters in each – Lena Lee, a 1950s Hollywood movie star and Claire Montgomery, a TV series location manager in 1994 – are both strong, determined women trying to make their mark in a male dominated world.

    How these two lives come together through their connection to the cinema in the small, country Queensland town of Starlight Creek, is a fascinating tale of love, betrayal and loss. It quite poignantly reminds us of past challenges, and how far we all, but particularly women, have progressed. Ultimately The Cinema at Starlight Creek, is an inspiring tale about how with guts and determination we CAN all follow our dreams.

  3. I’ve read many of Ali Sinclair’s books so was really looking forward to this new title.
    Lovers of historical fiction will really enjoy this book. Spanning two time lines – 1994 with Claire in Queensland and 1950 with Lena in Hollywood.
    Claire is part of a mini series TV production crew filming in a rural Art Deco movie theatre in Australia. Lena is a rising starlet in the cut throat world of Hollywood during the era of Hays Code censorship.
    There are many parallels between the two women’s lives – their strength and drive, their passion for following their dreams and for fighting for what they believe in.

    The story is well written and the depth of the characters make you bond easily with them. They are two strong women living in predominantly a mans world.

    Highly recommend The Cinema at Starlight Creek.

  4. A wonderful read portraying two strong women in the movie industry across two different timelines of 1050’s and 1994.
    Both women struggle to assert themselves in an industry where women are not taken seriously due to their gender.
    There is mystery, romance, stunning backdrops and a twist that ties the story together you won’t see coming but will satisfy the questions, and will have you feeling a touch teary at the end.
    Alli Sinclair has written another great book that I highly recommend to read.

  5. Alli Sinclair’s The Cinema at Starlight Creek is absolutely wonderful. I can’t thank Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Mira enough for the opportunity to experience this fabulous book. Told with two very different and distinctive timelines you are never left wondering what is happening. For a lot of the story you wonder how the two timelines can be linked, as the reader is sure they must eventually be, but that adds to the wonder of the book. Queensland, 1994 and Hollywood, 1950 are very different, especially the small town of Starlight Creek and the only obvious links until towards the end are the cinema industry and the strong female characters in the story. Strong female characters who have ethics and are prepared to fight for what they believe in weave the timelines together, very loosely at first.

    My first awareness of Alli Sinclair also came through Beauty and Lace with Beneath the Parisian Skies, one of the three Wandering Skies trilogy. I enjoyed this so much that I then sought out and loved the other two in the trilogy. It is indeed wonderful to get a new book by a loved author and be as delighted with the new book as the ones I’ve loved. This was definitely the case with The Cinema at Starlight Creek.

    Both timelines have beautiful romances, both have beautiful and strong women who have to fight for their place in their worlds. Both have beautiful friendships with people the main characters come in contact with even though there is conflict and difficulty in their lives. The descriptive images are wonderful and you really feel the Hollywood of 1950 and the small town of Starlight Creek where Claire Montgomery is hoping to make a TV mini series using the Art Deco theatre. Every character and scene comes to life.

    The way the story lines develop, the portrayal of all the characters with the incredible way the characters are drawn so that you feel you are part of the experience is just wonderful. The main characters “dare to dream” and are prepared to risk everything to follow paths that not only help them but others.

    Thank you, Alli Sinclair – this will stay with me as a favourite read for a long time to come, a book I will share with special people. I loved it.

  6. Beauty & Lace Book Club Book Review: The Cinema At Starlight Creek by Alli Sinclair

    The story is set in two alternating periods of time: the glamorous Hollywood 1950’s era, and rural Queensland in 1994.

    It begins in the latter date, when Claire Montgomery, a location manager, arrives in a small country town in Queensland to work on a television mini-series. Coming from the hustle and bustle of her Melbourne home where she is based, Claire is mesmerised by the breathtaking beauty of Starlight Creek and its surrounding landscape of sugar cane fields and big blue skies.
    Claire has had to work hard to get where she wants to be in a mainly male-dominated industry, but she is determined to make a name for herself, even without support from her family.
    Claire’s next big challenge is to get permission from the owner of Australia’s most significant art deco cinema to film about the life of 1930’s female architect Amelia Elliott.
    The owner, Hattie Fitzpatrick, and her great-nephew, Luke Jackson, are reluctant to let Claire go ahead with her mission, putting her career and her dreams at risk.

    Hollywood 1950’s: Lena Lee is an up-and-coming star who came to Hollywood after being a swimwear model and deciding she wanted to pursue an acting career.
    She dreams about being cast in roles that portray strong, independent women, but with political issues and censorship battles, Lena needs to fight for what she wants. She is tested time and again, leaving her questioning whether she made the right decision to try and fulfill her dreams..

    These two timelines are woven together beautifully, and as a reader, I felt no confusion with the flow of the story (as happened to me on more than on occasion with stories with two timelines).
    Towards the end of the novel, the connection between both era’s is made evident, and it all comes together so well.
    I thought that this was a really entertaining and easy read.
    I loved the glam Hollywood feel, as well as the depiction of the town people in Starlight Creek.
    Thanks to Beauty & Lace and Harlequin Mira for the opportunity to read and review.

  7. We start this story in Queensland 1994 where Claire is working hard as a location manager for a tv mini series. Its not to be plain sailing for Claire who has to deal with a major drama when one of the mini series male stars creates a lot of anger with the town locals after he is caught having an affair with a young local girl who is convinced that she is madly in love with him. Her Father runs the film crew out of town and swears that he will see to it personally that this mini series is a failure. Claire has to think quickly to find another location. She ventures to Starlight Creek where she meets Hattie who owns and lives in the old run down local Cinema. Claire desperately wants to shoot the rest of the mini series in the cinema but Hattie is not keen at all.
    The story jumps back in time to young Lena Lee who is in Hollywood in the 1950’s and trying to get her big break in the movie industry. It angers and frustrates her that although glamorous and sexy females are must for every film, its the males that are valued and they are the ones that get the bigger pay cheque. Lena battles on until her break comes and she has to deal with being placed in a fake relationship simply because having the public believe that she and her leading man were a couple would be much more enticing. Although this doesnt sit well with her she goes along with it. She also has to deal with her no longer friend Jeanne who is doing all she can to put stumbling blocks in Lena’s way.
    This story flicks between the two time frames and we see that even though many years have passed the prejudice against woman that existed in the 1950’s is still showing itself in the 1990’s.
    A wonderful book that I found flicked easily between the two time frames. A great rainy Winters day read.

  8. The Cinema at Starlight Creek by Alli Sinclair – Review

    This story focuses on the lives of 2 strong women – Lena Lee from 1950 and Claire Montgomery from 1994 and is set between Hollywood and a small town in Northern Queensland.
    Claire is the location manager for a TV Mini series set in an old cinema in a small Queensland town where she meets Hattie Fitzpatrick and her great-nephew Luke. She meets opposition from the towns folk and finds secrets to uncover.
    Both Claire and Hattie are caring and thoughtful people but both are guilty of denying themselves love, thinking that their dreams must take precedence over their hearts, and that they can’t have it all.
    The story kept me involved from start to finish, and I loved the description of the old cinema.
    I would recommend this book and give it 4.5 stars.
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  9. The Cinema at Starlight Creek is a delightful read. I fell in love with the characters, Hattie, Claire and Luke maintained my interest. I pictured the cinema with its historic Art Deco interior and wanted to explore every corner. Sleepy towns are rich the history and this one did not disappoint.
    Thank you Alli Sinclair, Beauty and Lace and Harlequin.

  10. The Cinema at Starlight Creek by Alli Sinclair is a novel of secrets, love, loss and dreams set in both the USA and Australia. The two timelines are Hollywood in the 1950s and a small Australian Country town in 1994.
    The lead character for the Queensland setting is Claire Montgomery, she is a location manager on a TV series being filmed in rural Queensland. Claire is struggling to find her place in a male dominated industry and while she knows she is excellent at her job she suffers from a lack of confidence at times. The story opens with Claire having to find a new location to film the TV series in due to the bad behaviour of the lead male actor. Claire finds Starlight Creek and in particular the old, closed, art deco cinema. It’s here Claire encounters Hattie Fitzpatrick, who owns the cinema and leads a very private life, and her good looking great nephew, Luke Jackson.
    The other timeline, Hollywood in the 1950s, features Lena Lee, an actress who has struggled to get her big break and has secrets from her past life which cause many complications. In the 50s Hollywood was struggling with politics and censorship and the lives of the actors were controlled by the studios. As Lena’s star rises she tries to help other women and fight discrimination but in doing so puts herself at risk. She falls for the handsome Reeves Garrity and makes a very dangerous enemy.
    Both of the lead female characters are strong women facing similar issues of a lack of equality in their chosen careers despite the fact that they are several decades apart.
    I did enjoy this novel as I found both Lena and Claire likeable, believable characters and wanted to know how their stories progressed. I loved reading the beautiful descriptions of the Queensland countryside, Alli Sinclair’s love of nature shone through in her writing. I often enjoy novels set across different timelines and places and like it when the threads between the different times start to come together.
    I would thoroughly recommend this engaging novel and will look out for other novels by Alli Sinclair. Many thanks to Harlequin Books and the Beauty and Lace Book Club for giving me the opportunity to read this novel.

  11. Thanks you Harlequin Australia and Beauty and Lace for the chance to read The Cinema at Starlight Creek by Alli Sinclair.

    This is a charming novel – interesting and engaging for any reader. Covering two time frames – the 1990’s in the Australia town of Starlight Creek and the 1950’s Hollywood it tells the story of Claire and Lena and the challenges they face in the face of discrimination and inequality in the male dominated film industry. The similarities between the characters – and their challenges – given the 40 year time difference are amazing and a bit sad. Their quest for love also engages.

    The story grabbed me from the beginning and the development of the characters was believable and interesting. The twist, although sad is handled well and adds to the story.

    A great book for those winter afternoons – or by the pool somewhere warm! Recommended*****

    Thanks again!

  12. Alli Sinclair has once again held me captivated in her most recent book ‘The Cinema at Starlight Creek’. It portrays the stories of two strong female characters in parallels, swapping between stories every couple chapters. First we are introduced to Claire Montgomery in 1994, who is a young woman trying to make her way in the movie industry. Claire is on set in rural Queensland to create a mini series. This is when she encounters the community of Starlight Creek and the old cinema that will change her. Claire builds a relationship with Hattie the owner of the cinema and there is a bit of romance with her nephew Luke.
    The second storyline is of Lena Lee, a Hollywood movie star in the 1950’s. Lena has had to work hard to build her name in Hollywood, however her past is filled with secrets that could ruin her in an instant. Lena develops a strong relationship with her male lead and fights for the equal rights of actresses in the 1950’s.
    I was quite unsure of how the two stories would combine but when they did, I could not put the book down and just needed to finish it to find out more.
    I would highly recommend Alli Sinclair’s ‘The Cinema at Starlight Creek’ and am sure that it will keep you captivated until the very end.

  13. I really enjoyed The Cinema at Starlight Creek the second Alli Sinclair novel I have read. Enjoyed the 2 stories of Claire Montgomery in 1994 and Lena Lee in 1950, and their struggles being working women in their respective eras. A great weekend read that had me hooked from the beginning.

  14. Fantastic read! How Hollywood and a little Australian town meet, how far women have come from the 1950s to the 1990s. Really interesting great story! Loved every minute of it

  15. The Cinema at Starlight Creek by Alli Sinclair, was an excellent read. This book brings together two main characters who are very strong minded powerful women. Even though these women are from different eras its interesting to see that back in the 1950s the struggles women went through to be recognised in society. The two love stories are played out and I thoroughly enjoyed the story line.
    Well done Alli

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