Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise

Just read an article about this book in Tuesday's USA Today, which claims that this book, just out this week, is "captivating" book sellers and may be the surprise best seller of the summer. Having never heard about it before, I did a little homework for us and this is what I found out. This is the sophomore novel of British author, Julia Stuart, who is currently living in Cairo.

Set in contemporary London at the Tower of London with a quirky cast of characters, the story is receiving rave reviews from the Washington Post and Amazon readers.

The Washington Post says, "The plot centers on Beefeater Balthazar Jones, his Greek wife, Hebe, and their 181-year-old pet tortoise. Balthazar and Hebe's marriage is frayed by grief over their son, who died years earlier at the age of 11. Their apartment inside the Tower (where all Beefeaters must live) is damp and dismal, and often during evenings together they speak to each other 'as if the place were filled with a million fluttering butterflies that neither dared disturb.' During his workday, Balthazar has to please tourists who are 'interested only in methods of torture, executions, and the whereabouts of the lavatories.' "
The Beefeaters, of course, are those jolly gentlemen who live on the premises of the Tower of London and lead all of us tourists around each day, enhancing our tours with their humor. It would appear from the reviews that Stuart has presented us with a cast of humorous characters whose story is flavored with some bits of history thrown in for spice.
Might be the first book I buy for our new iPad. Let me know if anyone reads it, and I'll try to update once I've finished it. 
Happy reading!


  1. This book definitely sound like it would appeal to me. I will be interested to hear your review and also, what were your thoughts about reading it on your i-pad.

  2. I have to admit that I am drawn to certain books just for their cover. However, I will find out more so I can judge, hmmm. This cover is delightful and if displayed in a store I would migrate toward it.

  3. that sounds wonderful, enchanting even. thank you
    for the excellent book review just when i need a new

  4. I'm putting it on my "to read" list. Loved seeing our friend in the picture of the Beefeater. I loved the tour of the Tower of London.

  5. Thanks for the colorful review. This may be one we can recommend to friends before they visit London and tour the Tower. I'll put it on my list to read too!

  6. Oh, how i love the Tower. I think I am so enchanted because when I first visited ('01) on my own, I wandered and was taken in by the history, the character rich beefeaters, and the fact that there is still life (daily living) going on within its walls (not counting the tourist biz). In other words this book is right up my alley. Thanks for the recommendation....I still recommend the Harry Potter series that I just finished.

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