Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Come, Thou Tortoise” as Want to Read:
Come, Thou Tortoise
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Come, Thou Tortoise

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  3,270 ratings  ·  447 reviews
A delightfully offbeat story that features an opinionated tortoise and an IQ-challenged narrator who find themselves in the middle of a life-changing mystery.

Audrey (a.k.a. Oddly) Flowers is living quietly in Oregon with Winnifred, her tortoise, when she finds out her dear father has been knocked into a coma back in Newfoundland. Despite her fear of flying, she goes to him
Hardcover, 412 pages
Published March 10th 2009 by Knopf Canada
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Come, Thou Tortoise, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Susan O.
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,270 ratings  ·  447 reviews

Sort order
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This book became one of my favourites of 2010, and if there's one book I would recommend to you right now, it would be this one. Quirky, clever, hilarious, original, poignant, touching, flat-out brilliant all comes to mind in describing Come, Thou Tortoise. It was a random purchase for me, bought on a whim - I didn't know anything about it but I've always loved tortoises and it sounded interesting. Only goes to show how spontaneous book buying, with no research, can reap great rewards!

Such a bri
3 stars

I would not say no to “Did you like this book?” but I would have to add that I wanted to like it more. I would not say no to… is an oft-repeated line throughout this 400+ page debut novel by Jessica Grant. Having said that, there is much to like about Come, Thou Tortoise: it is unique; at times more-than-amusing; and it is definitely a light-hearted read.

Audrey Flowers, the primary narrator of the story, is affectionately – and appropriately – referred to as Oddly by her father Walter
Mar 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really, really loved and enjoyed this book. What a delightful, adorable read with wonderful characters be they human, tortoise or mouse! I was hooked right from the start and fell in love with Audrey (Oddly) Flowers and her father Walter and Uncle Thoby. I especially loved the author's unique writing style. A poignant story full of humour and wit that I found hard to put down. I got this from the library but I would not say no to owning this book and reading it again and again. ;)
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canada, fiction
Honestly, I don't know if I have the words to do this novel justice. As I said a few short weeks ago, I bought this book because I just couldn't resist. Essentially, it just sidled up to me and said, "Take me home with you." So, I did.

My partner, who was with me when I bought the book, asked me what it was that I found so appealing and I couldn't explain other than to say, I just know I'll like it. He was skeptical. I guess it doesn't look like other books I just *had* to buy. Nor is it by an au
Sep 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
this is one odd little book.
and i mean that as a compliment.

i love that she loves corkscrews because they embrace the essence of both a ballerina and a weapon. think about it.

i love that she smells soap and runs to buy fudge.

i love that she knows snowflakes are prisms, and that she has a snowshovel that makes imprints of a flower with every load of snow she heaves from the sidewalk to the bank.

i love that the tortise gets a voice. i am slightly disconcerned that i relate more to the tortise's
I love this book! The narrators (Audrey and Winnifred) are hilarious, sweet, and real. They fear things that I fear, but more importantly, they rejoice in things I love - word play and puns :)

Although the subject matter is actually quite dark (all the more realistic for the majority of us), this book is full of mirth and had me laughing out loud in bed. Audrey's trials, though sometimes heart-wrenching, often end up with hilarious results. The case of the missing mouse (cheeky souris) and the ne
I loved this book so,so much. I was initially drawn to it because, having always had a fondness for tortoises, the prospect of a book narrated in part by one was too intriguing to pass up. I went into this expecting a lighthearted, funny read, but found a real emotional depth beneath all the humor that took me by surprise. For a book so filled with quirky characters and absurd situations there is quite an exquisite subtlety of emotion here; of love and loss and fear and redemption. To interweave ...more
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the narrators of this book is a tortoise. Do you know me? Can you spell “smitten”? Also, said tortoise lives in Portland, and I was just there and learned how to pronounce Willamette a few short weeks ago, and the human narrator’s nickname is Oddly and she’s from Newfoundland. In short, the book’s infrastructure would have won me over all on its own, and I haven’t even started talking about the story and the GENIUS way it’s told. I’m going to tell you about it. Are you ready.

This is a sto
Kirsten McKeown
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian, fiction
"It is surprisingly easy to lose your front tooth." For those of you who know me, you understand that I could not agree more. Then when the author followed up that line with, "He said the reason it was important to read was so I'd get all the jokes out there in the world," she had my undivided attention.

This book isn't easily summarized (happily)--so you really should just pick it up and start in--and then thank yourself for enjoying a true original. I love that this book enjoys playing around w
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, 2011
There is a video I saw of Jessica Grant speaking of this book, and she says something to the effect of - the mysteries that the narrator (and main character, Audrey) is preoccupied with and trying to solve through the book are different than the ones the reader will be preoccupied with - and that, for me, sums up the beauty of this book.

First, the prose is fantastic in a way that makes you smile as you're reading, without realizing you're smiling. The wordplay and inside jokes and random referen
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canlit, 2010reads
I knew I had to read this book when I read the front flap:

Here's a bit of information about our heroine, Audrey Flowers, which may come in handy while reading this book:
- she applies the rules of the board game Clue to help her with many of life's quandries
- she's terminally afraid of flying
- she finds comfort in making lists, lots and lots of lists
- her tortoise, Winnifred, often ponders Shakespearean speeches and the nature of exponents

Set mostly in St. John's, Newfoundland, where Audrey retur
Jul 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Jessica Grant’s debut novel is the best thing I’ve read this year. It’s about love, loss, family and home – without mush or predictability. Her writing is truly original – humour abounds, yet it’s poignant without being sentimental. Everything I look for in a book is here – interesting characters, surprising revelations, poetic wordplay. And funny, funny, funny. If you don’t like this book I don’t want to know you.
May 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: oh-ok-or-pa-ri
I loved the title and could not wait to read the book just based on that even though I didn't know anything else about it.

Once in a while as I was reading it, I felt underwhelmed and unexcited but spurred myself on in the belief that a book with a tortoise in it could not disappoint. I did enjoy reading it because of the wordplay Audrey and her family get into. That her Uncle Thoby calls her "Oddly" instead of "Aubrey" brings about some interesting sentences. Oddly, we have to go to the airport
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
PUB. DATE: February 2010

GENRE: Literary Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Audrey grew up in St. John's Newfoundland but a brief romance led her to Portland, Oregon, where she is living when she finds out that her father has had a coma. She returns home in a hurry only to find out that her father has already died. She and her uncle, who has lived with her and her father since she was young, grieve the loss and try to put their lives back together. Also, Audrey inadvertently investigates an old family mystery.
Ariel Gordon
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
The opening pages of Newfoundlander Jessica Grant's promising debut novel are disarming. Literally.

Audrey (aka Oddly) Flowers, terrified of flying to begin with, disarms an air marshal on a flight from her adopted Oregon back to her hometown of St. John's. She is going home because her beloved father has been bashed with a Christmas tree and is in a coma.

Next we learn that Audrey has left Winnifred, the titular tortoise that she inherited from an ex-boyfriend, back in Oregon.

But the distance bet
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this book. Use each line like a climbing rope to pull your self further in. Twine Christmas lights around the rope for light and read on with a sense of wonder. For no one thinks like Oddly/Audrey and no one else could navigate you through her losses and her loves as she does. Her narrative voice is original and it makes this book. It makes it wonderfully.

I had forgotten that the brain has geography. The human brain in 1 400 cubic centimeteres of geography. Our heads fit inside airplane wi
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, canada
Non ricordo come sono arrivata a questo romanzo (ormai è una costante) ma sono molto contenta di averlo letto. Come Thou, Tortoise è una storia un po' atipica, e inizialmente, come per We are family non ero riuscita a farmi prendere (non ha aiutato il fatto di perdermi ogni tanto fra gli innumerevoli giochi di parole...) ma il parallelo è continuato, infatti la protagonista Audrey (Oddly) Flowers e la sua testuggine Winnifred mi sono piaciute sempre di più. Il confronto con We are family non è c ...more
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was completely charmed by the writing. The story of Oddly (Audrey) Flowers is crafted as well as I imagine one can do it. Jessica Grant knows how to entertain. How to tease. She knows that a function of humour (I actually laughed out loud) is to pave the way for pathos. She understands that without making her readers fall in love with her characters (if only I were 40 years younger), the story becomes inevitably mundane. She knits her plot like it was a game of Clue seemingly random, haphazard ...more
Claire d
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canlit
I wish I could give this 4.5 stars. I can't give it 5 stars because I can't rank it amongst my all-time favourite books, but I really enjoyed it. It took me a few chapters to get into it, because it's hard for me to get used to books that don't use quotations in conversations. But once I got used to that, I realized the author's use of this tool really helped to get into the head of the protagonist. One of the main reasons I enjoyed this book so much is because the characters are all so lovable, ...more
Jun 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm in love with this book. It was so unique and such a good story. I've read some reviews where they felt that Audrey's narration was annoying...but I thought it was great. I felt that I really knew the character through the quirky narration. It seemed to me that her quirkyness might have evolved out of some learning disability she has, but I loved the play on words and this kind of secret language that she had with her father and Uncle Thoby. I loved how the two of them encouraged Audrey's way ...more
Nov 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lana. by: CBC Canada Reads 2011 Shortlist
I also wouldn't say no to a tortoise. You probably would have difficulty refusing too when that tortoise is the sassy, intelligent, and powerful Winnifred.

Forced to live with a struggling thespian, Winnifred recounts better days, the ones spent travelling as a dashboard tortoise across the USA and living with current owner (tenant), Audrey Flowers. She was hastily dropped off when Audrey was called to return home (St. John's): Her father was in a coma.

Dealing with heartbreak and not quite fitt
Jul 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
When I first bought this I actually really bought it cuz it was on sale and it had a turtle on the cover, but the book ended up being alot more complicated and deep then it looks! This book was told in more tan one perspective. Firstly it was told in the perspective of Audrey Flowers. However there were a few chapters where her pet turtle had some insight. Despite how funny that sounds and all the humour thrown in the book you can go from laughing to having a tear in your eye. Audrey herself is ...more
Jan 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: canadian, crap
Call me crazy, but I enjoy a plot. It doesn't have to be deep or life-changing, but a plot is required. You can imagine my joy when discovered that this book did, in fact, have a plot and it began on page 362. Apparently this book is listed as both humour and mystery, yet it was neither. Audrey spent a lot of the book reflecting on her life at 7 years old yet, when she wrote as an adult, her voice remained child-like. There was no character development. There were chapters where her pet tortoise ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The strangeness of your story put
Heaviness in me.
Shake it off. Come on;
We'll visit Caliban my slave, who never
Yields us kind answer.
'Tis a villain, sir,
I do not love to look on.
But, as 'tis,
We cannot miss him: he does make our fire,
Fetch in our wood and serves in offices
That profit us. What, ho! slave! Caliban!
Thou earth, thou! speak.
[Within] There's wood enough within.
Come forth, I say! there's other business for thee:
Come, thou tortoise! when?

Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've never read a punnier book. Even the tortoise (a tortoise, not a turtle -- that's like comparing me to a mermaid) had puns. When his papier-mâché castle is aflame, he drops a piece of lettuce outside his terrarium with a plea of 'kelp, kelp'.

If puns aren't your thing, I promise, you will still find delight in this book. I absolutely adored Audley ("Oddly"), Winnifred and Uncle Thoby. They will live in my heart for a long time.

Jessica Grant takes readers into a special world with this book -
Feb 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of wordplay and those who like charming first-person narrators
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Neil Smith
A very lovable book with an endearing protagonist. We join Audrey (Oddly) Flowers as she flies from Portland, Oregon, to her hometown of St. John's, Newfoundland, where her dear old dad is in a coma, and her life is about to change. The book is spent mostly with Audrey as she tries to come to grips with her new life and delves through her memories of the past. There are also interludes spoken by Winnifred, Audrey's tortoise, who has been left behind in Portland with friends of Audrey's.

Even thou
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was an odd read, for me, but that is perfectly fine and I ended up thoroughly charmed by this book.

Two unique voices: Audrey, aka 'Oddly', who is odd and strange in a way that most reviewers are calling 'quirky'. But she is also lovable and a very rich character; I just spent a bit too much time wondering if she was supposed to be autistic, maybe some asperger's? But the 'why' of her doesn't really matter, once you just accept that this is who is telling the story. It did mean that if thin
Dana Larose
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Jandalf
It was really good! Very sweet, and the main character is endearing. I'm glad I was slow on the uptake and figured out the mystery only a few pages before Audrey did.

My only small, teeny-tiny complaint is a bit of an affectation in the writing style where she never uses question marks to indicate questions. She also doesn't use quotations for when people are speaking, but I think I've seen this in other "modern" writers. I dimly recall Miriam Toews doing the same thing in The Flying Troutmans.

Janet Berkman
Jul 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
One of the highlights of my summer reading so far, this book recounts the experiences of a young woman, Audrey, called back from the west coast (US) to Newfoundland when her father falls into a coma. She has to leave her tortoise, Winnifred, with friends and good chunks of the book revolve around her checking in with her friends about the tortoise, and her longing to be reunited with Winnifred. The remainder of the book involves Audrey's discoveries about her family in some very humorous ways.

Shonna Froebel
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
This lovely first novel by Canadian author Jessica Grant has two narrators: Audrey Flowers, native of St. Johns, Newfoundland and lately of Portland, Oregon; and Winnifred (aka Iris) her tortoise.
Audrey gets a call from her uncle back in Newfoundland telling her that her father has been hit by a Christmas tree protruding from a passing vehicle and is now in a coma. Audrey leaves Winnifred with friends (although she worries about her a lot) and has adventures on the way home.
Once getting home to
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Amphibian
  • This All Happened
  • Away from Everywhere
  • February
  • Mean Boy
  • The Incident Report
  • The Amazing Absorbing Boy
  • Down to the dirt
  • Galore
  • Whale Music
  • Twenty-Six
  • Shelf Monkey
  • Fruit
  • Light Lifting
  • A Matter of Life and Death Or Something
  • Swamp Angel
  • Bottle Rocket Hearts
  • Kit's Law
Jessica Grant is a Canadian writer, whose debut novel Come, Thou Tortoise won the 2009 Winterset Award and the 2009 Books in Canada First Novel Award.

She lives in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Jessica Grant is a member of Newfoundland's Burning Rock Collective (members include Michael Winter and Lisa Moore). Her first collection of short stories, Making Light of Tragedy, includes a story t
“I eagerly await more complex concentricity in our Canadian coinage.” 4 likes
“I would not say no to a tortoise, I said.” 2 likes
More quotes…