Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book #1: The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise

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

So I didn't quite make my 52 book goal for 2010. I made it to 36. But it's a new year, and I'm determined to meet (maybe exceed) that goal this year.

My sister Holly Jo and I went to London for the first time in 2007, and we visited the Tower of London and took the Beefeater's Tour. We both agreed that it was one of our favorite London moments. We were fascinated by the stories about the different prisoners, daring escapes, tragic executions, and overall haunted atmosphere.

This book tells the story of the Beefeaters (or Yeoman) and staff members who guard and live in the Tower of London full-time. To say that this book is charming is an understatement. Stuart's characters whisked me into their quaint and quirky world.

There's Balthazar and Hebe Jones, who are reeling from the sudden loss of their 12-year-old son, and who also own the world's oldest tortoise, Mrs. Cook.

There's Valerie Jennings, the pleasantly plump employee of the London Underground's Lost and Found Department, who falls head over heels for a tattooed ticketmaster named Arthur Catnip.

There's Reverend Septimus Drew, who while secretly pining for the barista of the Tower's pub, Ruby Dore, also moonlights as an author of erotic novels "with strong morals, which allows readers to 'fill in the chinks.'"

And lots more.

While I was reading the book, I could literally see the different towers and buildings in my mind's eye. In fact, in this book, Reverend Septimus Drew lives in the tower-house with the blue door. Holly Jo took a picture of that door while we were there, and I have it in a frame in my bedroom right now.

I dare say this book made me wish that I lived in the Tower of London. With a turtle. Yep.