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.