Title: Tulagi Hotel
Author: Heikki Hietala
Published: April 2012
Publisher: Fingerpress Ltd.
My Source: author (thank you!)
My Score on Goodreads: 4 stars (or 3.5)
World War II has given Jack McGuire the chance to escape the confines of the Midwest and the family farm. An ace U.S. Marine fighter pilot, he risks his life each day with his squadron in the South Pacific theatre. For him, there's calm and camaraderie up there in the cockpit. But when the war ends, Jack struggles to find his place in civilian society. Turning his back on his home, family and inheritance, he returns to the Solomon Islands. Here he builds a hotel on the same island paradise he flew over in his years of combat. But when Kay Wheeler, the widow of his wartime best friend and wingman, comes to visit the island, Jack's orderly world is disrupted. He is forced to consider whether there's room enough for two in his reinvented life.
The reasons why I gave 4 stars to this book (I wanted to give 3 and a half, but that's not possible :p)are very simple. First of all I think this story is very well written! Heikki Hietala painted a scenery in this book that you can imagine perfectly. A place you'd certainly visit if you had the chance to. Secondly I love the fact that this is a story with several "genres" woven into it. I believe this book can be appreciated by lots of readers, even though they normally don't read the same kind of books.
I can hear you think "why don't you give 5 stars if you liked this book that much?". Hmmm, maybe I'm difficult, but I believe a reader has the right to be difficult in some cases ;). Sometimes I found the book a little too long. I don't think it's possible to read this book in one sitting, but that's not necessary of course. Another reason why I couldn't give 5 stars, is the (in my opinion) hasty end. All of a sudden there are unsolvable problems solved and our main character feels happy again... Maybe that's possible... Jack (our main character) is a lucky man ;)
Despite this one lost star, I loved the story from the beginning on. Our main character, Jack McGuire, is an "easy" character to understand and sympathize with. Sometimes the other characters are important too (they make Jack the man he is) and the author spends just enough time on each of them. You understand them, they're 'touchable' and engaging. There's only one character I don't understand completely even though she turns out to be very important in Jack's life. Kay, the woman he falls in love with, is kind of a strange person and because of the things she said/did I couldn't connect with her.
Besides the characters, Heikki Hietala also described some beautiful moments and places in this book. It's not difficult at all to imagine these little pieces of paradise (and hell -> everything in this book begins with a world war). Sometimes it feels like you are a guest in Tulagi Hotel yourself and I loved this feeling.
One thing about these descriptions was a bit annoying sometimes... : they could be veeeery long from time to time. I think the author can delete quite a few sentences without losing the beautiful spirit of this book. Have to say that all my criticism doesn't mean much. After all this is a book I enjoyed reading and I recommend it to all kinds of readers! The language is very accessible and the book certainly reads smoothly :)