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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.
Kitty H. (Pasadena, CA)
Don't Miss This One
Refreshingly different and delightful are the words that come to mind to describe 'The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise'. It is every bit as charming as the book cover illustration. Anglophiles and lovers of British comedy will rejoice. This story is funny, poignant and totally unique. The colorful characters who inhabit the Tower of London in the 21st century are sure to delight.
Everett W. (Mount Pleasant, SC)
The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise
P.S. I read this story shortly after finishing 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' by Steig Larsson. The contrast was like the light at the end of the tunnel. I'd give a 5 to all three, but what a difference!
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.
Tricia D. (Woodland Hills, CA)
The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise
This was really my kind of book! I loved the unique characters and their problems while mixed along with the historical facts of London Tower itself. There was everything in this book I needed: romance, humor, mystery, empathy, slapstick, and even anger. Being an animal lover, the tales that were provided about the animals themselves, helped attach me to the story even more. If you're looking for something a little different to read, this book is a MUST!
Ann D. (CLEARFIELD, PA)
Julia Stewart has wrapped the sadness of Bathazar and Hebe Jones' personal loss in what I found to be a fairy tale for grownups.
Mb, St Louis
Good weekend read
The Tower provides the backdrop for this story. Its staff and their families live is the spotlight of hundreds of daily tourists and the haunting presence of its former residents.
Beefeater Jones and his wife live with a one hundred eighty-one year old tortoise. One day the wife leaves and ever-so-slowly the tortoise does, too.
The Tower Menagerie is re-established by the Queen, who sends her many exotic animals there. Some of the towers new inhabitants go missing, some roam freely, some terrorize, and others befriend their caretakers.
'The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise' provides a great deal of humor. Each page has you wandering with all of the exotic characters as your guides.
Having enjoyed "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" and "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society," I was pleased with this story, too, as this storytelling style is entertaining. Stuart's novel progresses at a comfortable pace, and includes serious, touching, and amusing adventures.
Kate S.( Arvada, CO)
Split Down the Middle
After reading several other readers reviews, it seems that people either absolutely LOVE this book, or are not taken by it. I fall into the latter category. It was a clever idea, had some fun quirky, moments, but I felt that the author tried so hard to be clever that it lost most of its charm. Julia Stuart certainly has a way with words but she went overboard on this one.