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Publisher Description

Brimming with charm and whimsy, this national bestseller 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 SocietyThe 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.

Fiction & Literature
August 10
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Penguin Random House LLC

Customer Reviews

KS, San Diego ,

It’s Nonstop…Well, Just Nonstop

If the bits of humor in this book were scattered like olives on a pizza, they would have become tiresome, but instead they are more like a thick layer of sauce full of ripe chunks of tomato—adding character to every bite. Speaking of characters, their stories just keep unrolling and intertwining. Publisher’s Weekly said the symbolism got heavy-handed in some ways but the love story in this book was adorable; make that love stories, plural. Human love stories, animal love stories, losses, unspeakable griefs, irresistible longings, all brought into sharp focus, laced with unrelenting absurdities. Light, yes, but despite the ridiculous settings and antics, I ended up caring about these people and wanting them all to find what they were seeking. Just as soon as they each figured out what that was. Meanwhile, it was great fun chasing around the Tower grounds, and the Lost Property office was a scream. This would make a great ensemble television series, in the vein of Doc Martin or Monarch of the Glen.

Ruler7 ,

Fun and easy read!

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were entertaining and you immediately became involved in their daily struggles...

H Swetnam ,

The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise

Stuart has created earnest characters that are as unique as they are endearing. I thought it was an enjoyable read from the very first page.

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