The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise

by Julia Stuart
3.7 88

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Overview

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart

Brimming with charm and whimsy, this exquisite novel set in the Tower of London has the transportive qualities and delightful magic of the contemporary classics Chocolat and Amélie.

Balthazar Jones has lived in the Tower of London with his loving wife, Hebe, and his 120-year-old pet tortoise for the past eight years. That’s right, he is a Beefeater (they really do live there). It’s no easy job living and working in the tourist attraction in present-day London.

Among the eccentric characters who call the Tower’s maze of ancient buildings and spiral staircases home are the Tower’s Rack & Ruin barmaid, Ruby Dore, who just found out she’s pregnant; portly Valerie Jennings, who is falling for ticket inspector Arthur Catnip; the lifelong bachelor Reverend Septimus Drew, who secretly pens a series of principled erot­ica; and the philandering Ravenmaster, aiming to avenge the death of one of his insufferable ravens.

When Balthazar is tasked with setting up an elaborate menagerie within the Tower walls to house the many exotic animals gifted to the Queen, life at the Tower gets all the more interest­ing. Penguins escape, giraffes are stolen, and the Komodo dragon sends innocent people running for their lives. Balthazar is in charge and things are not exactly running smoothly. Then Hebe decides to leave him and his beloved tortoise “runs” away.

Filled with the humor and heart that calls to mind the delight­ful novels of Alexander McCall Smith, and the charm and beauty of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise is a magical, wholly origi­nal novel whose irresistible characters will stay with you long after you turn the stunning last page.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385533287
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/10/2010
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 8.80(w) x 11.04(h) x 1.17(d)

About the Author

JULIA STUART is the author of one previous novel, The Matchmaker of Périgord. A native of England, she now resides in Bahrain.

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Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 87 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Julia Stuart has a witty, intelligent voice I loved the characters and their relationships with one another. Truly an amusing read.
tetonpilates More than 1 year ago
I looked forward to reading this novel in advance of a trip to London, to learn something of the Tower and its inhabitants. Sweet characters, but the pace is glacial and the story doesn't pull together quite as well as I'd hoped. Read it if, unlike me, you don't have a stack of unread books in the library.
TheChaoticBuffalo More than 1 year ago
I received this book through the First Reads giveaway program on Goodreads. As a Beefeater, Balthazar Jones and his wife, Hebe, live in the Salt Tower at the Tower of London with Mrs. Cook, their hundred-and-eighty-one-year-old tortoise. Their marriage has been reduced to a shell of it's former passion in the few years since the sudden death of their young son, Milo. Balthazar's life is thrown into further turmoil when he is appointed to re-establish and maintain a menagerie of animals given to the Queen. When Hebe leaves him, his despondency reaches an all-time low. The Tower is also populated by an eccentric group of individuals, each of whom has his or her own secrets and life-issues to deal with but each of whom is impacted in some way by the arrival at the Tower of the new menagerie. Stuart has created a fascinating Tower of London guidebook within a beautifully written story. Her recounting of the tales and legends of the Tower alone would be enough reason to read this book, but she's also provided a glimpse into the lives of a unique community that will have you laughing out loud one minute and shedding tears the next. There are enough subplots running through the book that you begin to wonder if some will be left hanging, but they're all tied up neatly and completely by the time Mrs. Cook makes her final, triumphant appearance. Ultimately, this is a book about love; parental, marital, illicit - love wished for and love spurned. We learn from this eclectic cast of characters that love found, love lost, and love rekindled are too important to leave to chance. They desire the full attention of our hearts and minds and are worth nothing less.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this original, quirky, engaging and heartfelt book. I loved it! I indeed plan to read other books by Julia Stuart.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was very interesting with lots of depth to the characters. There were lots of twists throughout, but the ending left it as you had predicted, or hoped, it would.
LinNC More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book. After reading some of the less stellar reviews, I can see that some other readers did not appreciate the style or the humor that Stuart uses, but I thought it was entertaining. The glimpses of the life that residents of the Tower lead are truly interesting. Having been one of those tourists, I had to laugh at some of the questions Stuart's Tower visitors pose and the behaviors she attributes to them! I am sure the residents face many of those situations. The story has a serious underlying theme that I thought kept it grounded. I have become a Julia Stuart fan and look forward to reading her other books. I think she offers a fresh style and an opportunity to smile. 
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what a delightful book. A bit slow at the beginning, but stick with it. entertaining.funny,clever. 
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