Author: Julia Stuart, 2010.
Genre: Contemporary. Comedy/Drama. Animals.
Other Details: Paperback. 325 pages.
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. - synopsis from author's website.
It was a novel with a warm heart and mixed comedy and drama perfectly with some scenes providing laugh out loud moments while others, such as Jones' inability to cry over the death of his son, were tender and bitter sweet. The misadventures that take place within the Tower are complimented by Hebe Jones' work at the Lost Property Department of the London Underground. It was a comforting, cosy read for a Sunday afternoon and I finished it in a single sitting. I'd not heard of Julia Stuart before spotting this at the library though plan on reading more of her work.
The cover art for both UK and US editions convey that sense of whimsy that characterises this novel.
Julia Stuart's web page for 'The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise'.