Rating: 2* of five The Book Description: Brimming with charm and whimsy, this exquisite novel set in the Tower of London has the transportive qualities and delightful magic of the contemporary classics Chocolat and Amélie. Balthazar Jones has lived in the Tower of London with his loving wife, Hebe, and his 120-year-old pet tortoise for the past eight years. That’s right, he is a Beefeater (they really do live there). It’s no easy job living and working in the tourist attraction in present-day London. Among the eccentric characters who call the Tower’s maze of ancient buildings and spiral staircases home are the Tower’s Rack & Ruin barmaid, Ruby Dore, who just found out she’s pregnant; portly Valerie Jennings, who is falling for ticket inspector Arthur Catnip; the lifelong bachelor Reverend Septimus Drew, who secretly pens a series of principled erotica; and the philandering Ravenmaster, aiming to avenge the death of one of his insufferable ravens. When Balthazar is tasked with setting up an elaborate menagerie within the Tower walls to house the many exotic animals gifted to the Queen, life at the Tower gets all the more interesting. Penguins escape, giraffes are stolen, and the Komodo dragon sends innocent people running for their lives. Balthazar is in charge and things are not exactly running smoothly. Then Hebe decides to leave him and his beloved tortoise “runs” away. Filled with the humor and heart that calls to mind the delightful novels of Alexander McCall Smith, and the charm and beauty of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise is a magical, wholly original novel whose irresistible characters will stay with you long after you turn the stunning last page. My Review: A couple whose marriage has crumbled under the weight of grief for their dead son live on in silence. Cutesy things happen to them. She leaves him. Cutesy things keep happening to them. The characters around them, all nonsensically daffy and wacky, do a variety of handstands and pirouettes for our amusement. She comes back to him, and all ends with a nice, pert little bow slapped on the fanny of the book.I gave it two stars because I laughed out loud twice. And then I stopped.Do not read unless you're in a desperately bad mood and want to become so furious you'll forget why you were grumpy, or you feel the need to immerse yourself in a vat of sugary stickiness and squoodge it between your toes and pack it into each orifice on your person before being rushed to the hospital for insulin therapy. Repetitious verbiage-o-phobes are strongly cautioned.