Approximate word count: 130-135,000 words
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A resident of Klaukkala, Finland, when not writing Heikki Hietala is a Senior Lecturer at HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences. Tulagi Hotel grew out of his interest in military history and popular culture. It took him several years to write it, apparently because he loved the research so much. Hietala also has a short story collection and has had his short stories featured in several magazines and anthologies. For more, visit the author’s blog.
Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, Jack McGuire is eager to escape and see the world. World War II gives him the chance, where he finds adventure, excitement, and danger as a fighter pilot in the South Pacific. However, when the war ends, he is at loose ends, uncertain of his place in society and even in the world. Returning to the South Pacific, Jack takes over a decrepit hotel, and seems to have found the place he feels comfortable. At least until Kay Wheeler, the widow of Jack’s wartime best friend and wingman, enters his life.
Tulagi Hotel is a book with something for readers of many different tastes. For those interested in military and aviation history, there is plenty, with tales of fighter planes in dogfights over the South Pacific. It is a coming of age story, which could prompt thoughts of how family expectations and desires can get in the way of living life on your own terms. It has romance, injecting all the emotions involved in that rollercoaster ride. Most important of all, it is a good story.
Although the author’s name appeared Scandinavian, I was surprised to discover that he still lives in Finland. Unlike some foreign authors where it is obvious English is a second language, Hietala’s command of English dodges most of the common mistakes. Also impressive is hitting the right tone in his depiction of small town life in the 1940s Midwest. The result was a story that rang true.
A small number of typos or sentences that, while possibly being grammatically correct, were hard to decipher. The version I got also had a minor formatting issue, with some sections in a bolded font for no apparent reason.
Rating: **** Four stars