The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise (Stuart)

A little slow-going at first, I was surprised at how interesting the lives of these tower-dwellers were. They were all eccentric, but so real…nothing beyond imagination, believable. You understood their pain and their longing and how being confined to the Tower most of the time was both a blessing and a curse in their lives. I particularly enjoyed the story of the priest who took a pen-name and wrote erotic fiction, using the proceeds to open a halfway house for retired prostitutes. It was a prime example of how the profession that is your “calling” isn’t always what you’re really cut out to be and that sometimes the means to your ends can be quite different from what you expect. To do God’s work through writing erotic novels is not typically what people expect to end up doing when they feel the calling of the church. The story of the Jones family (the primary story) was so touching; about two people so in love that when tragedy struck they just couldn’t connect anymore. I love the way he got to her in the end by purposefully losing his rain samples on the tube, so that they would end up in her Lost Property office. It played on the intimate knowledge of each others’ obsessions that only two people in love could appreciate. The love story of the pregnant barmaid and the priest and that of Valerie Jennings (also working for the Lost Property Office of the Underground) and the ticket inspector of limited height both show how you find love in unusual places, even and probably especially when you are middle-aged and/or overweight. Those stories and most in this book are stories of love where you’d least expect it and also love for those who least expect it would happen to them. Another notable odd couple being Bathazaar Jones and the bearded pig he inadvertantly stole from the London Zoo. Most of all this is a story of hope for those of us who consider ourselves “eccentrics”.

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