All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.

Happy reading!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise, by Julia Stuart

This delight of a novel features Balthazar Jones and his wife Hebe, who live at the Tower of London. Jones is a Beefeater, or more properly "Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and member of the Sovereign's Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary." But what he typically did was give visitors tours of the Tower, regaling them with tales of torture and escape, and dutifully pointing out the restrooms. It wasn't a terribly glamorous position, notwithstanding the public's perception and the traditional uniforms, and the living quarters were damp, round (it was a tower, of course)--which made picture hanging and furniture placement dicey--and haunted. When the Queen decides to reestablish the Royal Menagerie at the Tower, the role of its overseer falls to Jones, mainly due to his ownership of a geriatric tortoise named Mrs. Cook.

Hebe Jones works at the Lost Property Office for the London Underground, and deals with a unique array of lost items and unusual people. She's not happy at the Tower and doesn't relish her husband's new zookeeper role. They've drifted apart in grief over the loss of their son, Milo, and she questions her husband's strange new obsessions. It is a lost item and her search for it that sets the stage for the book's conclusion.

In addition to the charming and compelling main story, this book is full of subplots and rich characters. Stuart does a remarkable job leading readers through an entire range of emotions without feeling manipulative or contrived. If you liked Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Olive Kitteridge, or The Guernsey Library and Potato Peel Pie Society, you may also enjoy The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise.

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise was published in 2010 by Doubleday.

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