Come Thou, Tortoise

Written by Jessica Grant

Category: Fiction
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Publisher: Knopf Canada
ISBN: 978-0-307-39754-6 (0-307-39754-8)
Pub Date: March 10, 2009

I grabbed this book from my sister at the last minute, before a three-part flight from Halifax, NS to Montgomery, AL. I was intending to spend most of the flight working, and wanted a little something extra just in case I needed a break. I cracked it open a few minutes after leaving Halifax, and was finished by the time plane #2 landed in Atlanta. I could not stop reading.

The story starts with Audrey (Oddly) Flowers, living in Oregon with her tortoise Winnifred, having recently broken up with her boyfriend. She receives a call saying her father was in a terrible accident, so she leaves Winnifred with some rather unreliable friends and heads home to St. John’s, NL. On the way, she disarms an air marshal, who she believes is a terrorist, and locks herself in the plane bathroom with his gun.

It is an atypical coming of age story. The usual bits are there: she arrives home, her father passes away, her Uncle Thoby leaves for England, she is alone to sort out her life. And she discovers she didn’t know her family & friends as well as she thought she did. But that’s the end of anything ‘usual’ in the novel. Narrated jointly by Audrey and Winnifred (yes, the tortoise helps to narrate), and featuring a talking fruit fly (just for a moment), is a beautiful, hilarious, and surprisingly deep story of love and family secrets.

Come Thou, Tortoise is possibly the quirkiest, most charming book I have ever read. I have read a lot of quirky, but it often comes without the charm, leaving you with the thought that the author is trying to prove just how odd they can be. But this is a story that is necessarily quirky. No one is trying to prove anything, this is just how it has to be.

I absolutely adored this book. I laughed out loud. I cried. All on the plane. In front of strangers. It was fabulous.

 

This post is in the 61st
Book Review Blog Carnival

Published at Her Ladyship’s Quest.

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