Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review: Tulagi Hotel: A World War 2 Novel by Heikki Hietala

Tulagi Hotel: A World War 2 Novel
By Heikki Hietala
Publisher: Fingerpress
Published: Sept. 27, 2012

Amazon Synopsis:

The War is over, but for Marine pilot Jack McGuire, it's only just begun. 

Unable to adjust to post-war life, he buys a surplus Navy seaplane and heads for a small island which had been occupied by the Japanese in 1942. He sets up a colonial-style hotel on the island over which he used to fight. 

But his past soon catches up with him. A parade of war veterans float through the hotel, sending Jack hurtling back into dogfights over the Solomon Islands, as the story of his wartime life unfolds. Then, out of the Pacific 
blue, he sees the widow of his former wingman Don Wheeler, who was shot down in action. No-one even knew that womanizing fighter pilot Don had a wife, and her arrival sends Jack's life into turmoil. 

Tulagi Hotel is a gripping tale that weaves the protagonist's war-torn past with his equally turbulent present. The story will transport you to a small, war-ravaged island in the South Pacific.

Book Links
Amazon  *  B&N  *  Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Jack McGuire has returned from World War II but instead of returning to the US, he has settled in the Solomon Islands and set up a hotel where he is trying to adjust to post-war life. The wife of his best friend and former wingman, Don Wheeler, who was shot down on one of their missions shows up and sets Jack reminiscing about his past.

Tulagi Hotel was a thoroughly enjoyable treat to the South Seas. You could almost feel the sunshine and smell the salty ocean breeze.  The novel moved back and forth from present day Jack’s life to different eras of his life and the lives of the people he knew who wandered through his hotel. The story was not told in chronological order but as a series of remembrances. This in no way made the story confusing, but added to the charm.

It was evident that a lot of research went in to the writing of this book as the author was knowledgeable about the planes and events of the Second World War. The book almost reads as an autobiography since the author includes exact dates of personal activities. I found myself checking once or twice to see if this was a true story or work of fiction.

I enjoyed the characters in Tulagi Hotel. They seemed down to earth and very believable. I strongly sympathized with Jack at the losses he suffered both during the war and after. And I was truly touched at the show of support his friends gave him after his accident.

There was a lot in Tulagi Hotel. It’s part romance and part action-adventure. I think Mr. Hietala did a lovely job of balancing the two. There are plenty of air battles with descriptions that will make you feel like you are right there and just enough clean romance to keep things interesting. There is some swearing in the novel, but overall it is a fairly clean read.

Tulagi Hotel is a wonderful piece of historical fiction. I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially those readers who enjoy works from around the era of World War II or who enjoy aviation. I gave this novel 5 stars out of 5.

Thank you to the author for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author:

Heikki Hietala is a Senior Lecturer at HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences. He holds an M.A. in English Philology from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, and has worked in IT and localization for more than 20 years. Tulagi Hotel is his first novel.

Tulagi Hotel has its origins in the author's lifelong interest in military history and popular culture. Hietala has accumulated a large library of books on World War 2, and assisted in editing and translating of a pictorial history of the Finnish Air Force 1928-1945.

He began writing Tulagi Hotel in 1996, but research and background work -- not to mention everyday life -- meant slow progress for many years. The first complete version was ready in 2007, and in September 2008 a refined version was uploaded onto the HarperCollins website, Authonomy. Tulagi Hotel reached #15 among some seven thousand books.

Besides this novel, Hietala has written short stories, some of which have appeared in anthologies, ezines and literary websites, such as Emprise Review. He is a member of Year Zero Writers, an non-conventional convention of unconventional authors, and is currently discussing the publication of a collection of his short stories. A second book is being worked on, in the hope of not waiting another 14 years for it. Some of the short stories are available at his website.

Heikki Hietala is a keen fan of British comedy and an avid Monty Python aficionado. He also subscribed to MAD Magazine at the tender age of 11, which should explain quite a few things. He lives in Klaukkala, Finland, with his family. You can contact him at heikki dot hietala at sabulo dot com.

In the Works:

For those of you who read Finnish, Tulagi Hotel will be available in a Finnish version in August 2014! 

Author Links
Website  *  Twitter  *  Facebook

No comments :

Post a Comment