Connie's Reviews > The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise

The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart
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Aug 05, 2011

really liked it

This book is utterly charming. It follows the rather glum but comic adventures of Balthazar Jones, a Tower of London beefeater, as he endeavors to be guardian of the queen's menagerie. Balthazar almost seems a tragic figure. His son, Milo, has died three years ago at age 11, and Balthazar is consumed by guilt that he may contributed to Milo's cardiac death by arguing with him about homework the night before the boy died. Unable to share this burden, Balthazar and his wife, Hebe, drift apart. She longs to talk about Milo, and Balthazar can't bring himself to do so. Subplots include the tower vicar and his surreptitious career as an erotic fiction writer, the ravenmaster's torrid affair with the tower cafe cook, and Hebe's work in the London Underground lost property office where her co-worker, Valerie Jennings, finds love with Arthur Catnip, the tattooed ticket inspector. Balthazar and Hebe are able to come together and come to terms with Milo's death at the book's conclusion, which provides the satisfying and redemptive ending that such a delightful book deserves.
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