The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
I can’t say enough good things about this book. It had me turning the pages as the story shifted from 18th-century to modern London. Nella is an apothecary in 1791 who takes over her mother’s business but now dispenses poisons instead of herbal remedies to women who wish to do away with their husbands or lovers because of abuse or infidelity.
Current-day Caroline is visiting London on what would’ve been her anniversary trip, but she recently learned of her husband’s adultery. Seeking time away, she takes the trip herself and is enlightened by what she learns during a mud lurking expedition in which she recovers an old bottle in the sea with an inscription of a bear. Investigating her find at the British Library, she befriends a researcher who helps her discover the whereabouts of Nella’s apothecary shop that has been hidden for over 200 years.
As the story alternates between past and present, Caroline becomes absorbed in investigating the apothecary’s story. When Caroline’s husband joins her in London to apologize for his behavior and ask her for a new start, she is faced with a decision regarding her marriage. Delving further into the apothecary’s life, Caroline seeks to solve a mystery which allows her to confront her own future.
5 thoughts on “Review of the Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner”
This sounds like an interesting story, Debbie. Thanks for sharing about it.
You’re welcome. It was excellent.
First of all, I must say that the idea is good – but from there it goes awry in so many ways… E.g., it’s crooked sixpence coins, not engagement rings. And no, there weren’t any ganache balls to be had in 1790es. Ganache is several decades younger. Also, there weren’t any printed forms to fill in those times, at least not in some (very possibly shady!) servant’s employment agency…
And then there’s putting something back in the pocket several times in a row… and we all know you have to take something out from the pocket before you put it back in again. Or in the eggs jar: one egg, three eggs…?
There are many such inconsistencies in this novel. Which is a pity, for sure, because, as I said, the idea itself is good. But the research job is not good enough, and proof reading could be done with much more attention to details.
Also, the plot is sometimes stretched almost to the point of snapping.
All in all, I had great hopes when I began to read this novel, but it surely did not live up to my expectations.
I’m sorry to hear you were disappointed. Everyone has their own opinion about a book. I found it very interesting. This was a debut novel, so I understand there were some errors. Thanks for sharing your review.
If you write a historical fiction, you should do the necessary homework. As I said, good idea, but not entirely good realisation, because of the lack of research.
Thanks for reading and commenting my review.
All the best, stay healthy.