If you’re going to write a book about Beefeaters in the tower of London, it doesn’t hurt to be named Stuart. For the uninitiated, Stuart is the illustrious (infamous?) last name of James I of England (son of Mary Queen of Scots). And even though the author is likely no relation (she makes absolutely no such claims) it lends a certainly legitimacy to her story.
Which is funny because I really did believe everything she wrote in this book, though the rational side of my brain kept reminding me, as the title drives home (der, it’s “a novel”). Her snippets of Tower “history” were just kooky enough to be true. The scientist in me is eager to go read a history of the tower to check, but the reader in me wants to let sleeping ravens lie.
I loved all the characters in this book. The main Beefeater Barnabas, his Greek wife, her job at the office for things lost on the Tube (which yes, is so impressive that it’s a character in itself). The vicar who writes (prizewinning!) romance novels. They are hopelessly endearing, and even the characters you aren’t supposed to like (the nefarious Ravenmaster for instance) are so artfully painted that they are humorous (or rather, ridiculous).
This book, like the office of lost things (no joke, I wanted a whole book just about it), is a font of surprising, confusing, funny and often delightful discoveries.