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

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From Publishers' Weekly:

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 Perigord) is any indication, the fortress is as full of intrigue as ever. Balthazar and Hebe Jones lost their son, Milo, to illness three years ago, and while Beefeater Balthazar grieves silently and obsessively collects rainwater in perfume bottles, Hebe wants to talk about their loss openly. Hebe works in the thematically convenient London Underground Lost Property Office, and the abandoned items that reside there (an ash-filled urn, a gigolo's diary, Dustin Hoffman's Oscar) are almost as peculiar as the unruly animals (lovebirds not in love, a smelly zorilla, monkeys with a peculiar nervous tic) in the Tower's new menagerie, given to the queen and overseen by Balthazar. Passion, desperation, and romantic shenanigans abound among the other Tower-dwellers: the Reverend, an erotic fiction writer, has eyes for a bartender, and the Ravenmaster is cheating on his wife with the cook. Though the cuteness sometimes comes across a little thick, the love story is adorable. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Bleak times have fallen upon the Tower of London's residents. Grief, infidelity, loneliness, and other sorrows have begun to shadow the lives of those who guard and run the tower-everyone from the barmaid to the Beefeaters have felt the touch of misfortune. Until, suddenly, their splintering lives are drawn back together by a most unexpected decree; the queen wishes to house her menagerie of gifted pets within the tower's confines. Before long, the animals take merely complicated lives and send them into mayhem. Strained marriages crumble, long-simmering feuds spark back to life, and precious personal possessions turn up in the strangest places. Life works in mysterious ways, however, and the animals may just be the breath of fresh air that the tower's inhabitants need to repair their broken hearts. Verdict Charming, witty, and heartfelt, Stuart's second novel is even more delightful than her debut, The Matchmaker of Perigord. A perfect suggestion for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society; highly recommended. [Reading guide available.]-Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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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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