My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them - setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.
Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.
Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.
One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose - selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.
In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate - and not everyone will survive.
📖 My Review..
I'm a bit late to the party with my review of this one but better late than never!
Deep in the bowels of 18th century London an apothecary goes quietly about her trade helping those women who seek to hurt the men who betray them in so many different ways. Following the tradition set by her mother before her Nella uses her skills as a mixer of potions to help women on the understanding that the poison she gives never hurts another woman and that all her transactions are recorded in her ledger. A ledger which, if it fell into the wrong hands, would send Nella to the gallows.
There's a real sense of foreboding in this rather dark story of vengeance and retribution but the author brings it all to life with a lovely authenticity allowing a glimpse into the dark and dangerous world of 18th century London. I also enjoyed the dual time aspect of the story particularly in the modern day when we get to know Caroline Parcewell, an American on holiday in London, who is having to deal with the after effects of a ruined relationship where she has been hurt beyond repair. Caroline's quest to discover more about the lost apothecary is what knits the two halves of the story together. Whilst I found both time aspects fascinating I found myself looking forward more to Nella's story in the 18th century especially when the story takes a decidedly dangerous twist for her and her companion.
The Lost Apothecary is beautifully written dual-time fiction with a strong sense of atmosphere and a well defined plot.
Best read with....with a mug of chamomile tea and a dish of eggs with gravy..
About the Author
Sarah Penner is the debut author of The Lost Apothecary, to be translated in eleven languages worldwide. She works full-time in finance and is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women's Fiction Writers Association. She and her husband live in St. Petersburg, Florida with their miniature dachshund, Zoe.
Twitter @SL_Penner #TheLostApothecary