The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart came to me from Doubleday as an advance reader copy. The initial description caught my attention, but the book was more charming and entertaining than I could have expected. It is the story of Balthazar Jones and his wife, Hebe, who live in the Tower of London. He is a Beefeater that is given the unexpected responsibility of caring for a new royal menagerie, animals moved from the London Zoo to the Tower to improve tourism. The story is full of colorful characters and the most hilarious situations. I loved reading about Hebe's job at the lost and found. Although some of the life struggles that the characters face are sad, they show that life does go on.
The storyline itself was truly entertaining, but what I loved most about the book were the wonderful characters and their realtionships. It is also full of history about the Tower of London, but this is blended into the story beautifully. I would describe this book as a comfort read that is both funny and touching. 5/5