The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am not even sure where to begin with this exceptional dual-timeline novel. In 1791, apothecary Nella has devoted her life to helping women, whether with their own ailments or ridding them of problems of all sorts — especially abusive or philandering husbands.
In the present day, aspiring historian Caroline has come to London to sort her thoughts about her ailing marriage. On a whim, she decides to go mudlarking … and finds a glass vial with, unbeknownst to Caroline, ties to Nella’s shop. Caroline decides to research the little vial, and learns more than she bargained for.
This is an exquisitely-researched book about women’s roles, herbal medicine (including poisons) and 18th C. social mores, as well as a look at the complexities of human nature and how little of *that* has changed over time.
That I read such a lengthy novel in just two nights is telling; I did not want to put it down. There are some serious twists and turns in the modern-day portion of the book that keep the reader wondering what could possibly happen next. Highly recommended.
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