Linda K. (Belvidere, IL)
"The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise" is one of the most creative and entertaining novels I've read since Alexander McCall Smith's #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. What a delightful way to learn about another place in the world while being fully entertained. Ms. Stuart provides a full description of each character and invites us to join "the party", and what a party it is! Be quick like a rabbit to get this one!
Suzanne G. (Tucson, AZ)
Love, Love, Love
This is a great book. Not knowing about the Tower of London, I learned so much. The characters are wonderful. I had two or three laughs per page. This was such a pleasing read. I have to disagree with one review: I found no repetitiveness of phrases within the book. But then, I was enjoying myself so much my criticism took a back seat!
Sandra L. (Delray Beach, FL)
The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise
While reading this engaging story, I felt as though I was on an unexpected vacation. The hilarious (and sometimes very poignant) descriptions of the tower residents (animals included) was a delight. The Tower of London seems like a character in its own right . The history is fascinating. I would love to work with Hebe and Valarie at the London Underground Lost Property Office! "The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise" hit the right note with me - I found it charming and very entertaining! - Very uplifting.
Heather K. (Brooklyn, NY)
The Good, the Bad, and the Inexcusable
This novel had potential, but it seems Julia Stuart couldn't decide if she wanted to write a "whimsical" novel about quirky British folk trapped, in contemporary fashion, in London Tower, or a more serious novel dealing with the terrible grief two parents feel after the loss of their only child. So she's tried to do both, and it doesn't work.
Stuart has a pretty way with words (ohhh, more on THAT later), and did a fine job in bringing out the personalities of her characters, even those who have minor parts. I like the clever allegorical twists she's thrown in, too, and of course the history is indeed fascinating. And I could have forgiven the imperfect splicing of the storyline, since her characters are complex, sympathetic, hopeful, and (sometimes) hilariously hapless (yup, I did get a few chortles from the book).
But the most heinous issue with this novel is that Stuart is so infatuated with her clever phrases that uses them over and over and ... oh, c'mon ... over again. It took great restraint on my part to not throw the book against the wall after reading, yet again, about "fullsome buttocks." And that's just one of many, many annoying little phrases that Stuart feels compelled to endlessly inject into the novel. This ridiculous conceit doesn't propel the plot or enhance the story, and it really irritated at least one reader! This is inexcusable sloppiness on her editor's part.
So I'm giving the novel an "average" rating because as a novel it was poorly executed, but as a history lesson on the Tower of London it was, in fact, well done. But I wouldn't recommend the book.
Diana C. (Delray Beach, FL)
Love and Loss and all things English
As a self-proclaimed Anglophile and a Tower of London enthusiast, of course I was anxious to read Julia Stuart's book. While filled with delicious tidbits about the Tower of London and interesting British history in general, this book is more about the power of love and how it can transform even the deepest of grief. The characters remain somewhat distant due to the author's at-arms'-length narrative, but that doesn't stop them from finding a way of getting inside your heart, keeping you interested in their daily trials and tribulations while they live at the illustrious Tower. A sequel would be grand.
Jane H. (Indianola, IA)
The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortise
What a joy to read!!! Come, open the pages and meet a Beefeater of the Tower of London, Balthazar Jones, his wife Hebe, and all their quirky friends, animals and problems.
The author's style of writing tickles your funny bone. SO - put your feet up, open the book and enjoy,enjoy,enjoy!