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. Thats right, he is a Beefeater (they really do live there). Its no easy job living and working in the tourist attraction in present-day London.
Among the eccentric characters who call the Towers maze of ancient buildings and spiral staircases home are the Towers Rack & Ruin barmaid, Ruby Dore, who just found out shes 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.
Published in the UK in August 2010 as Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo.
22 out of 27 BookBrowse readers rated The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise 4 or 5 stars. Most of them agree that:
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." (Elena S) (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
History buffs, animal lovers, and simply the tenderhearted will swoon over this captivating story.
The Denver Post The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise is the perfect summer confection — feather-light without being feather-brained. Julia Stuart has penned a work that is original and every-page amusing, and she's peopled it with characters that move into your heart.
The Washington Post
[The] delightfully zany and touching novel, The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise, by British writer Julia Stuart, has jumped the queue to take readers on a fictional romp through the Tower’s realm…With her deft and charming style, Stuart brings this comic story to a satisfying and heartwarming end.
Stuart's second novel employs a whimsical over-the-top style that occasionally draws attention to itself, but the tale is grounded by the moving central love story. This sweet romp will appeal to history buffs.
Though the cuteness sometimes comes across a little thick, the love story is adorable.
Charming, witty, and heartfelt, Stuart's second novel is even more delightful that her debut, The Matchmaker of Perigord. A perfect suggestion for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society; highly recommended.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by rebecca g fun, fun, fun! This was the most fun reading a book that I have had in awhile. Delightful, quirky characters and silly animals...I loved them all. I laughed and giggled through the whole thing
Rated of 5
by Louise Jolly What A Hoot!! The engrossing story of a Beefeater, otherwise known as Yeoman Warder Balthazar Jones. He lives in the Tower of London with his wife, Hebe, but they are grieving over Milo, the son they lost and their own marriage which is falling apart. The... Read More
Rated of 5
by Dorothy T. Delightful read There's something for everybody here--family relationships, English history, animals, romance, humor, and tears. The title leaves out one aspect that I found very special--the London Underground lost and found department. There are well-developed... Read More
Rated of 5
by 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... Read More
Rated of 5
by 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... Read More
Rated of 5
by 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... Read More
If you've read the The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise you'll already have been taken on a veritable history tour of The Tower of London and the Yeoman Warders, popularly known as Beefeaters, who guard it. For those who haven't read the book yet or, for that matter have but would like a quick summary of some of the history of the Tower, here are a few highlights (and below the review you'll find more about the Beefeaters):
Where is the Tower and why was it built? William the Conqueror defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and was subsequently crowned king. A few years later, having subjugated most of his new land, William started work on a citadel in South-East London, to awe his new subjects and to defend the entry to London along the River Thames. The Keep (the most highly defended part of the fortress) was the tallest building in England, and became known as the...
On an ordinary day, Edwards world is turned upside down when he stumbles across a crate of family papers. To his horror, he discovers that nine previous generations of his family have come to sticky ends because of their noses. When he investigates---despite his grandfathers caveat never to look into the origin of his nose---Edward...
Winner of BookBrowse's 2010 Best Debut Award You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family.
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A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...