Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Delightful Novel About the Tower Of London--Pack Your Bag!

I loved this book.  Adorable.  Sweet.  Funny.  Quirky characters.  The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart takes place at the Tower of London.  I've been to the Tower, and this made me want to go back and look at it with fresh eyes--and without the litany of "Oh my God!  I'm at the Tower of London!" running through my head.  What can I say?  I'm a history nerd, with a BA in History, so I am firmly entrenched in the interesting happenings of this world.  England is a particular favorite of mine.

Balthazar Jones is a Beefeater at the Tower.  He lives there with his wife, Hebe, who works for the London Underground in the Department of Lost Things.  She spends her days accepting lost items that were left on the Tube, and then trying to match them to their owners.  She has a sarcophagus, a magician's saw box, and a safe that no one can open to keep her company, along with Valerie, her co-worker.  Yeoman Jones and Hebe have been married for over 30 years, and are both still dealing with the grief of losing their son Milo a few years before.

Life at the Tower is not glamorous.  Everyone lives in the damp, dank, stinky towers, where nothing can fit because the walls are curved.  Ghosts abound, and tourists are a pain.
The Queen decides the Tower needs more tourists, and wants all the animals she receives from other heads of state to be housed at the Tower.  Centuries before, the Tower had a managerie and it was very popular.  Yeoman Jones is put in charge of this, and reluctant though he is, he soon finds himself becoming attached to the animals.

This book was so enjoyable because the characters are just lovely.  Each has their quirks and secrets, and Julia Stuart has written the story in such a way that you find yourself smiling and sighing over each one of them.  It's a very English novel.  Please, pick it up.  It will lift your spirits and also provide you with little snippets of Tower history.  History in a well written book?  No way!  Yes, way.

I'm going to look at my photos of the Tower right now.  Thank you, C-Joy and Ty, for taking me there!  I'm ready to go back anytime.

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