Tuesday, September 7, 2010

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


  When I finish the last page of a book such as The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise, I feel happy that I spent time with such a wonderful story, but at the same time I'm sad that I have to say good-bye to a such an interesting cast of characters.  

  The novel is set in the Tower of London and the people who keep it operational - they are required to live on the Tower Grounds.  The main character is Balthazar Jones, a Yeoman Warder (aka Beefeater) who is asked by a representative of the Queen to oversee a new Royal Menagerie being established at the Tower.    This provides some distraction to Balthazar, who, with his wife Hebe - an employee at the Lost Property Office of the London Underground - are still dealing (not dealing, really) with the death of their young son Milo.
But all is not bleak in this story, thanks to a very quirky group of supporting characters',  the most notable of whom are Reverend Septimus Drew, who harbors a crush on the Tower Pub's landlady and who in his spare time writes erotic fiction; and Valerie Jennings, Hebe's colleague at the Lost Property Office, who finds herself in a confusing relationship with a ticket collector who frequently brings her objects he's found on the Tube.  Oh, and let's not forget Mrs. Cook, Balthazar & Hebe's 181-year old tortoise.
This novel is a fun look at the Tower of London and the London Underground  - their day-to-day functioning and their colorful histories.  It also has very touching passages about love and loss.  I laughed and cried while reading it, but through it all I smiled.  A very enjoyable book.



  1. Ooh, this sounds like a wonderful book. I love anything London for some reason. The Tower of London is a fascinating place. This sounds like a book that will add a new touch to my perspective.

  2. I visited London years ago, and remember the Tower of London as one of my favorite tourist sites. We got to attend the Ceremony of the Keys, which is when they close the tower down at night, and it was incredibly spooky. I think I'd enjoy this book!

  3. I really want to read this, and any description that includes someone laughing and crying means I must! Thanks for the overview; can't wait to share my thoughts.

  4. Oh! I keep picking up The Tower, The Zoo and the Tortoise when I visit the book store, but I've yet to buy a copy and bring it home.
    I might have to change that--it sounds lovely.

  5. I've been fortunate enough to visit the Tower once, about 4 years ago, but I really want to go back now. This novel gives the Tower such a different character.


What do you think? Good or bad, I'd love to hear from you (but be nice - I'm sensitive!)