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The tower, the zoo, and the tortoise
Julia Stuart
Adult Fiction STUART

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Summary: 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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main characters Balthazar Jones
Male
Married
Lives and works in the Tower of London with his wife and 120-year-old pet tortoise; lost his son three years ago to illness; collects rainwater in perfume bottles; responsible for looking after any prisoners in the tower and safeguarding the British crown jewels; provides tours of the tower; put in charge of the Queen's new menagerie of animals.
Tour guide

Hebe Jones
Female
Married
Lives in the Tower of London with her husband and 120-year-old pet tortoise; lost her son three years ago to illness; wants to talk openly with Balthazar about the loss of their son; works for the London Underground Lost Property office.
Office assisant



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