Memory Cougan, black and in her twenties, has a successful career and an adoring fiance. But at her engagement party, she panics. Brought to London aged five, she has no recollection of Africa, or why she left. Leaving Adam behind, she returns to a place she no longer recognises -- and to Max, the coffee planter who may have the answers. But Memory's journey of discovery is not hers alone to make. For Max, hardened by years in the bush, her arrival will reawaken memories of the most intense time in his life and of his beloved aeroplane, Hotel Juliet. For Elise, her adoptive mother, Memory's flight threatens to reveal the truth of what really happened in Africa all those years ago. Moving from Britain to Africa over twenty years, Hotel Juliet combines pathos and tragedy with the possibility of glorious redemption to tell the poignant story of a passionate love triangle that resonates down to the present day.
Belinda Seaward is British and teaches at a boys' school in Devon. She has spent time on a coffee plantation in Zambia, in the Middle East and in London, where she was a news journalist on the Daily Mail and the Sunday Times. Belinda has also raised two young Arab horses. Hotel Juliet is her second novel. Belinda Seaward on the writing of Hotel Juliet": "Hotel Juliet" was inspired by a period spent on a coffee plantation in Zambia while studying for my Philosophy degree in 1996. The strange and remote Copperbelt region captivated my imagination and I took notes of conversations and made observations which I would later use in the novel. The title is taken from the name of an aeroplane - Romeo Hotel Juliet, a Piper Cherokee, single-engine plane that I flew back from Lusaka one day with very little instruction from the pilot. Juliet belonged to a friend who was learning to fly and his house became a mini flying school with maps and manuals spread out on the dining room table. I found the language of flight fascinating and wanted to use some of its odd poetry in the novel. I built up the story slowly, working on it layer by layer. I wanted the narrative to have a real emotional depth and integrity. I wrote many drafts and tried to create a style I thought of in my mind as weightless prose. I took the rather unusual step of telling the story from all four points of view. I felt that because the decisions and actions of each character were going to influence the others, each voice had to be allowed to be distinct. I wanted to create a kind of mosaic of emotions and explore the inner life of each character on equal terms. It was important to allow each character his or her voice. In real love stories the actions and desires of two people always influence others, sometimes profoundly, and I wanted to explore this creatively. As I worked I kept in my mind an ideal, a story with a delicate balance, a sort of intricate, playful, airborne drama that deals with real people in real situations and explores powerful emotions and troubling ideas. I also wanted to try to communicate something of the peculiar atmosphere of Africa, especially its supernatural elements which were inspired by meeting a witch doctor and watching him attempt to cure a young girl whose soul had been 'stolen' by an old man. My aim was to build a story that allowed room for exploration and inquiry into how people discover meaning in their lives. Each character in Hotel" Juliet" raises different questions and solutions to the dilemma of how to live honestly. The novel does not attempt to resolve this, but rather shows the characters trying to act according to the decisions they have made for themselves and each other."