Tulagi Hotel

Written by Heikki Hietala
Review by Barbara Goldie

Tulagi Hotel is a wonderful, very readable novel which follows the life of ace US Marine fighter pilot Jack McGuire. Trying to rebuild his life post WW2, he moves to the Solomon Islands, where he builds a hotel on an island he flew over in his combat years and settles down to a life of sun and relaxation.

With his authentic well written language Hietala magically transports the reader into the hotel.  It is a compelling, relaxed read. It really feels like a story written at the time it takes place. The reader is taken on holiday with the breathtaking scenery and the friendship the reader makes with the other guests in the hotel as its realistic and likeable characters come alive.

There are heart‑wrenching stories to be told, lots of nostalgia and some sadness as we share the hopes and disappointments of Jack, a very gentle man who remains in your heart long after his story ends.  There is love, friendships and strong bonds throughout the novel. Don Wheeler, the romantic hero, is the best friend and wingman Jack shares so many vividly descriptive adventures with and Kay, Don’s widow who comes to visit the island and manages to disrupt Jack’s orderly world.

The book is hard to put down once started, and the detailed descriptions of the dogfights contain lots of technical and accurate historical details. Along with the romantic engaging characters it is a brilliant mix. The location is beautiful, the hotel well worth a visit, and the lives of the guests are intriguing.  The book moves at a gentle pace with emotional twists and turns along the way, and although the storyline brings tears on occasion and smiles on others, there are some quite funny moments as well.  A great read.