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The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise

(published in the UK as Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo)


Set in the popular tourist attraction in present-day London, The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise is the exquisite story of love, loss, and a one-hundred-and-eighty-one-year-old pet.

Balthazar Jones has lived and worked in the Tower of London for the past eight years. Being a Beefeater is no easy job, and when Balthazar is tasked with setting up an elaborate menagerie of the many exotic animals gifted to the Queen, life at the Tower gets all the more interesting. Penguins escape, giraffes go missing, and the Komodo dragon sends innocent tourists running for their lives. But that chaos is nothing compared to what happens when his wife, Hebe, makes a surprise announcement. What’s a Beefeater to do?


“[A] hilarious love story. . . . This book will steal your heart.” —People

“History buffs, animal lovers, and simply the tenderhearted will swoon over this captivating story. . . Sweet and enchanting.” —Entertainment Weekly, Grade A

“Feather-light without being feather-brained. Julia Stuart has penned a work that is original and every-page amusing.” —The Denver Post

“Delightfully zany and touching. . . . With her deft and charming style, Stuart brings this comic story to a satisfying and heartwarming end.” —The Washington Post

“Julia Stuart’s sweet The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise is a blessing, undisguised and undeniable, and apparent from the first sentence. . . [A] tale at once contemporary and timeless. . . The Tower, of course, is known as the home of the Crown Jewels, and Stuart’s many-faceted little gem adds to its glitter.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“This is fine writing. . . . For [those] who could use a little whimsy and a rousing good yarn, turtle soup is on.” —The Plain Dealer

“Imagine a funny, poignant book, full of delightful and wacky characters, then add a bit of English history, and you’ve got The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise. . . . This is Carl Hiaasen for the Tower of London.” —NPR, 'Best Books of 2010'

“The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise unfolds with an airy whimsy. . . Great fun. . . For all that [Stuart’s] setups are ingenious, she never loses sight of the humanity of her characters. . . Both original and memorably enjoyable.” —The Denver Post

“Stuart’s tale is a comedy of realms—her Tower, her England—where people and things are out of place. . .  Sometimes it takes an escaped Komodo dragon for people to begin sorting out their lives.” —BookPage

“Enjoyable and humorous. . . Has a human genuineness to it that is touching and, at times, heartbreaking.” —The Gainesville Times

“[A] treat for Anglophiles.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“It’s the delicate balance of odd and normal that makes Stuart’s book irresistible.” —Sacramento Book Review

“Stuart’s attempt to combine current reality with the ghostly past is a brilliant premise. . . . Remarkably funny. . . . Stuart is obviously fascinated by the multiple histories that inhabit the tower, and her research flavours the novel well.” —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“An absolute delight.” —IndieLondon

“A perfect suggestion for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; highly recommended” —Library Journal

“A marvellous confection of a book.” —The Washington Times

“A Beefeater, his wife, and their nearly 180-year-old tortoise live in the Tower of London, and if Stuart’s deadly charming sophomore novel (after The Matchmaker of Périgord) is any indication, the fortress is as full of intrigue as ever... the love story is adorable.” —Publishers Weekly

“From start to finish, it's an absolute delight and I enjoyed every comical, poignant and heart warming moment.” —IndieLondon

“a delightful gem of a novel, filled with absurdity, hilarity and poignancy in equal measures.” —New Zealand Herald


  • USA

    ISBN-10: 030747691X
    ISBN-13: 978-0307476913
  • UK

    ISBN-10: 0007345232
    ISBN-13: 978-0007345236

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