The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise
Balthazar Jones has lived in the Tower of London with his loving wife, Hebe, and his pet, the oldest living tortoise, for the past eight years. That's right, he is a Beefeater. It's no easy job navigating the trials and tribulations that come with living and working in the largest tourist attraction in London. The once white-hot flame of Hebe and Balthazar's love has been snuffed in the few years since their son Milo died, a death for which Balthazar blames himself.
When Balthazar is tasked with setting up an elaborate menagerie within the Tower walls to house the many exotic animals gifted to the Queen by foreign dignitaries, life at the Tower gets all the more interesting. Penguins escape, a bearded pig goes missing, giraffes are stolen, the komodo dragon sends innocent people running for their lives, and canaries suffer fainting fits. As he attempts to cope with this four-legged invasion and his marriage continues to crumble, Balthazar must confront the secret he has been harbouring about his son's death, if he wants to save his marriage and his sanity.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Balthazar Jones: Beefeater, overseer of the Tower's royal menagerie, father to Milo, and collector of rain
Hebe Jones: Balthazar's wife who works at London Underground's Lost Property Office
Mrs. Cook: Balthazar and Hebe's 180 + year-old tortoise - the oldest tortoise in the world
Arthur Catnip: London Underground ticket inspector of limited height
Rev. Septimus Drew: Tower chaplain who writes forbidden prose and pines for one of the residents
Ruby Dore: Barmaid at the Tower's Rack & Ruin pub who has a secret
Valerie Jennings: Hebe's eccentric colleague who falls for someone of limited height
The Ravenmaster: Philandering Beefeater who looks after the Tower's ravens
Sir Walter Raleigh: Former Tower prisoner and its most troublesome ghost
Chief Yeoman Warder: Suspicious head Beefeater
Oswin Fielding: Equerry to The Queen
Samuel Crapper: Lost Property Office's most frequent customer
Yeoman Gaoler: Deputy to the Chief Yeoman Warder who is terrorized by ghostly poetry at night
From the Hardcover edition.
READ AN EXCERPT
Standing on the battlements in his pajamas, Balthazar Jones looked out across the Thames where Henry III’s polar bear had once fished for salmon while tied to a rope. The Beefeater failed to notice the cold that pierced his dressing gown with deadly precision, or the wretched damp that...
1. While filled with humour, The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise has an undercurrent of heartache. Why do you think the author included the tragic element - could the story have survived without it?
2. The novel is strewn with historical anecdotes. Which do you think are true, and which do you think the...
— People Magazine
“Charming, witty, and heartfelt, Stuart's second novel is even more delightful than her debut, The Matchmaker of Périgord. A perfect suggestion for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; highly recommended.”
— Library Journal
"History buffs, animal lovers, and simply the tenderhearted will swoon over this captivating story."
— Entertainment Weekly, grade A
"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 Denver 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.”
— The Washington Post
“A Beefeater, his wife, and their nearly 180-year-old tortoise live in the Tower of London, and if Stuart’s deadly charming sophomore novel (after The Matchmaker of Périgord) is any indication, the fortress is as full of intrigue as ever…the love story is adorable.”
— Publisher’s Weekly
“[The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise] is grounded by the moving central love story. This sweet romp will appeal to history buffs.”
— Kirkus Reviews
"[A] magical novel…warm and funny."
— Woman (UK)
From the Hardcover edition.