Julia Stuart’s latest novel The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise is a lovely book about the Tower of London and its quirky inhabitants: there’s Balthazar Jones, a man who, since the death of his young son, has developed the habit of collecting different types of rain; Hebe Jones, Balthazar’s wife, who works at the London Underground’s Lost Property Office and fancies playing marbles with its collection of glass eyes; Ruby Dore, a barmaid whose pet canary has simply quit singing; and Reverend Septimus Drew, a devout man of the cloth who discovers he has a knack for writing erotic fiction.  Every character is a delightful combination of odd and endearing, and together they find a way through the rainiest of times.  While Stuart’s novel requires some suspension of disbelief, she writes in such a charming way that readers give it willingly, and if you’re a fan of animals, English history or humorous fables, I think you’ll enjoy this book.

The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart
Doubleday (8/10/2010)