Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise Review and GIVEAWAY!

From Publisher: 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 you turn the stunning last page. 

My Take: It's a bit like British humor, really.  It's subtle, quiet, and then you can't stop laughing.  It wouldn't work with American humor because Americans don't do subtle as well so it comes out cheesy.  No way could the description of how Hebe Jones avenges her lost sleep by going to the bathroom be duplicated in the White House.  
The other subtlety is the animal behavior.  The animals are not your usual fare but when you watch their odd behavior, there is a kind of mimicry of their human counterparts.  However, you really have to watch for it.  Otherwise, it seems quirky (which it is).  The writing style is incredibly creative and the reader must pay attention in order to not miss how very funny, sweet, sad, and triumphant the story is.  

Ultimately, the reader concludes that the story is really about relationships.  The incredibly endearing cast of quirky characters heal past wounds, discover new love, rekindle old love, and building bridges.

4 stars.

Want it?  Thanks to Judy at Doubleday, you can have it.  Fill out the form below.  Contest ends October 14, 2010.
U.S. Only
No P.O. Boxes
One book per household


Cathy W said...

Sounds like an interesting and fun read.

CountessLaurie said...

This looks fun! thanks for the review!!