Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise

by Julia Stuart

I have happened upon another novel laced with British tongue-and-cheek humor, quirky characters and almost (but not quite) unbelievable dilemmas. In many ways I was reminded of The Sisters Brothers in the eccentric characters and their crazy and funny situations. Some of the more laughable in this book are: a bird with the "trots", a Beefeater choking on the monopoly boot, a preacher who writes erotic novels under a female alias, the ghost of Sir Walter Raleigh and a lost bearded pig, oh and don't forget the 200-year-old pet tortoise. The story develops out of two main backdrops: the Tower of London, which is home to most of these characters and the London Underground Lost Properties Office, the workplace of Hebe Jones, wife of Balthazar, Yeoman Warder in charge of the Royal Menagerie. The author weaves many unusual historical facts and folklore into the story without distracting from the plot.

However The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise is not all amusement. There is a surprising aspect of sadness and loneliness throughout that catch you off guard inside the silliness. Each character is struggling to make a connection, to feel wanted and needed or to figure out how to cope with rejection.

I think this book would go perfect with a spot of tea and a biscuit. Enjoy.

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