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The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise: A Novel
by Julia Stuart

Published: 2010-08-10
Hardcover : 320 pages
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5 clubs reading this now
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3 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 4 of 7 members
Brimming with charm and whimsy, this exquisite novel set in the Tower of London has the transportive qualities and delightful magic of the contemporary classics Chocolat and Amélie. Balthazar Jones has lived in the Tower of London with his loving wife, Hebe, and his 120-year-old pet torto...
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Introduction

Brimming with charm and whimsy, this exquisite novel set in the Tower of London has the transportive qualities and delightful magic of the contemporary classics Chocolat and Amélie.

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. That's right, he is a Beefeater (they really do live there). It's no easy job living and working in the tourist attraction in present-day London.

Among the eccentric characters who call the Tower's maze of ancient buildings and spiral staircases home are the Tower's Rack & Ruin barmaid, Ruby Dore, who just found out she's 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.

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Book Club Recommendations

Learn about zoos
by rkarpinecz (see profile) 05/14/13
It would be helpful and interesting if someone in the book group learned a little about how zoos are created and managed in the 21st century.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "This book does not live up to its hype "by rkarpinecz (see profile) 05/14/13

It was not whimsical, charming, or anything at all reminiscent of Chocolat or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. While it had amusing moments and some quirky characters, it was just boring.... (read more)

 
  "Couldn't get into it"by nicole.gruden (see profile) 12/16/12

No one in our book club finished this book. Only 2 of our 6 members got more than half way through. The story line seemed interesting enough but the authors writing style and drawn out history lessons... (read more)

 
  "WASN'T HORRIBLE....."by barbaraross (see profile) 04/22/11

.....but I expected more. the animal theme was ludicrous, the couple's life falling apart after their son's death was so subtle as to be nothing. what was the point of the book?

 
  "Different, Quirky, Enjoyable book"by eydie_ann (see profile) 03/18/11

 
  "The Tower et al"by Neyly (see profile) 03/15/11

I liked it, just not as much as I thought I would. So many reviews mention the book's humor, yet the underlying sadness seems equally as noteworthy to me. I wasn't expecting it - and it somewhat colored... (read more)

 
  "The Tower, the zoo and the Tortoise"by spoo51 (see profile) 11/19/10

Most of the members of our group really liked this book. They enjoyed the characters and the sense of fun that exists. We also learned so much about the Tower.

 
  "The Tower, The Zoo and the Tortoise: A Novel"by menomin1 (see profile) 09/11/10

This book was unlike any I have read. I learned a lot about the Tower of London and the people that live and work there. The best way to describe this fictional book is by calling it 'understated.' I... (read more)

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