Regular price: $31.93
Buy Now with 1 Credit
Buy Now for $31.93
Balthazar Jones and his wife Hebe have lived in the Tower of London for eight years while he works as a Beefeater (yes, they still exist), a guardian of the Tower. The two have lived quiet lives of desperation ever since their 11-year-old son Milo suddenly passed away in his sleep. Their quiet lives are disrupted when Balthazar is assigned the responsibility of overseeing the opening of a menagerie in the Tower of London filled with monkeys and giraffes and any other animals given as gifts to the Queen of England during her lifetime. With the abrupt change of pace, Balthazar’s grief is put on hold as he redirects his focus and consideration towards a herd of animals suddenly in his care.
Balthazar and Hebe are joined by a cast of characters that includes a secretly-pregnant barmaid named Ruby, a clergyman who happens to also write a best-selling erotica series, a clerk named Valerie who works in the Department of Lost Property for the London Underground with Hebe, and a 181-year-old tortoise named Mrs. Cook, who has been in the Jones family’s care since before Milo was born.
The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise is a beautifully crafted story that unfolds and peels back the layers of each character in an immensely gratifying way. There is grief and heartbreak, but there is also love, passion, humor, and a lot of charm to be found in this story. But best of all is the experience of hearing it aloud, and Jonathan Crowley delivers a sincerely moving narration to complement this lovely story. Suzanne Day
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 Society, The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise is a magical, wholly original novel whose irresistible characters will stay with you long after.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sherrye on 09-12-10
big fat disappointment
Having listening to over 800 books over the last 19 years, this is the first time I have written a review....This book was over touted and a big fat disappointment. I wonder what the writer really wrote and what the editor published. It did not bring a smile to my face, let alone a laugh. The narrator was dull at best and did not bring the characters any life. I was previewing for my book club and it will get a NO!
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Suz on 04-13-14
Great Quirky Book
What made the experience of listening to The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise the most enjoyable?
The story was original as it was a fictional story mixed in with fascinating historical facts about the Tower of London.
What did you like best about this story?
I loved the parts about the animals, when the Royal Menagerie is moved to the Tower for a short while. Really hillarious! I also very much enjoyed the work of the women who try to find the owners of all the weird items that are left on the London Underground. Very intertaining!
Which character – as performed by Jonathan Cowley – was your favorite?
The main character is fascinating, having held on to a guilt for so long and developed an odd behavior to cover it up. All the characters are quirky and unique, which makes this book a wonderful listen.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
All the main characters have something sad about their life, and of course I felt that too although I did not get overwhelmed by it due to the funny aspects of the story.
Any additional comments?
The reader has a pleasant and clear voice.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful