Dolena W. (Dallas, TX)
A Laugh, A Little Sadness and Lots of Warmth
I love this book! I loved it from the first page until the last page. I cannot wait until it is published so that I can give it to my friends.
This book is chock full of humor, but the laughs are not its purpose and they do not distract from the lovely stories behind the laughter. And, who could resist the antics of the animals who move in and out of the story lines.
But the real story is the humans. Human characters who are all eccentric, flawed, but fascinating. With one or two exceptions, all of the characters seem familiar. Not because they are stereotypical, because they are anything but. They are familiar because they so resemble the people we all know who live quiet lives, waiting for joy to come or return to their lives.
The ending of this book was extraordinary. It was sweet, free of theatrics, just a gentle pull toward resolution of all the stories, all the characters' lives.
I will read this again for certain. Long live Mrs. Cook (you have to read the book)!.
JD ( NY)
A Charming Book
The Tower of London is the setting and those who live and work there are the subject of this beautiful and affecting novel. The details and history given about the Tower are fascinating enough, but what makes this book wonderful is that while it is filled with sadness, it is also extremely funny at the same time. The characters are quirky, but you feel connected with them on an emotional level. I didn't want this book to end.
Elena S. (The Book Works, CA)
Fire Up the Tea Kettle and Settle In With a Good Book
"The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise" is an absolute delight! Every one of Stuart’s characters is endearing, brought to life with humorous quirks, and a sense of quiet tenderness that warms the heart in even the rainiest of times. This book is a good pick for animal lovers, English history buffs or anyone who has ever known "the silent ecstasy of wearing new socks."
Tom B. (Ferndale, Michigan)
For whatever reason - perhaps the whimsical cover - I was expecting this book to suffer from quirk overload. However, I was so pleasantly surprised by what I found instead. A really moving, engaging, and original narrative that - through some extraordinary circumstances - reveals a lot about the human capacity to love and to mourn. Definitely recommend.
Mark O. (Wenatchee, WA)
Lost and Found
All readers know that reading takes us places we’d never likely visit. "The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise" takes us inside the Tower of London, a place so saturated with history that ghosts ooze out everywhere. The arrival of a menagerie of animals (gifts to Queen Elizabeth, from all over the world) falls to the responsibility of one of the Tower guards, a Beefeater. These exotic animals are lost, uprooted from homes in jungles and plains, and now housed in moats and towers. In fact, this book is a story of losses. Some of these losses are terrible (a child), sad (a marriage), life-changing (a calling) or bizarre (the things left behind on the London Underground). But the opposite of lost is found and the London Underground's Lost Property Office seems a mirror of life. Things thought irretrievably lost can be found again: happiness, purpose, and life-long mates, whether one is human or albatross.
Martha P. (Issaquah, WA)
History made fun
A truly delightful romp through history! If only learning could always be made this pleasurable. Each character imparts his own knowledge of the Tower of London and all it's ghosts, beheadings and royal goings-on. Animals for the menagerie provide more fodder for stories from the past. And all this with a love story or two in the midst of everything. Lovely British humor and overall a wonderful read.
Everett W. (Mount Pleasant, SC)
The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise
I enjoyed this book, but it is not great literature, rather a sometimes amusing tapas. I was initially put off by the publisher’s introduction. This book is not “snortingly funny” or an “absolutely unfettered literary delight.” It rather is a light, occasionally witty love story with a happy ending. The story is populated by eccentric English characters, few of whom, unfortunately, are fully developed. As someone with both training and an active interest in history, I found the details about the Tower of London and its history fascinating.