Today Sarah Penner comes to the blog with a tale of second chances, healing, self-determination and intrigue with
The Lost Apothecary
Discovering your husband of ten years has been unfaithful is a blow: particularly when it happens just hours before you are to leave on THE anniversary trip of a lifetime: heading to London to see the sights and connect: catching up with your long-hidden love of all things historic. What is Caroline to do? She packs and goes – alone: time to regroup, rethink her next steps and remove herself from the omnipresent threat to her thoughts of her husband and his infidelity.
Reeling from the emotions and jetlag, she’s just checking out the neighborhood when she meets a tour guide for a mudlarking excursion along the Thames. Having no other plans that intrigue, and despite her heart not really being in the mood – she joins and discovers a small vial with a crudely etched bear on the side. This starts her investigation (and a refresh of her love of history, the degree she never went for, and a rethink of her life.
Meanwhile, we are treated to the story of Nella and her connections to Eliza. Nella had taken over her mother’s shop – an apothecary dedicated to women only – and to serve their needs. Rare in the 16th century London in which they live. Time and circumstance, as well as a bitterness combined with knowledge of herbs and their effects have made Nella the “go to” woman in town for those who need a change in their circumstance with removal of their husbands. When little Eliza, just 12 years old, arrives at her shop to purchase a particularly effective remedy for her mistress’ husband, now turning his eyes (yet again) on the young servants in their home – a friendship of sorts is born, and the story of how Nella came to dispense harm instead of only help.
What a gripping and intriguing tale as Catherine seeks to uncover Nella’s full story, find her own footing, and even be implicated in the poisoning (yet not death) of her own husband as she seeks to find her own footing and new path. With visits to the British Library, discovering an old, long unused door off an alley, and the register of names, doses and eventually the ‘what happened’ to Nella – Catherine is discovering her own new path in life and allowing herself a new direction. Told in 3 perspectives: Nella and Eliza’s in the past as well as Catherine’s in the present, the three inform the changes, growth and even decline of relationships, lives and opportunities, and is hard to put down. An unusual and rather unique telling of a woman –forward tale where heroines aren’t all goodness and light, and ‘who deserves’ the opportunities opened as the story unfolds isn’t clear.
Title: The Last Apothecary
Author: Sarah Penner
Genre: 16th Century, British, Contemporary Elements, Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Dark-theme, Dual Narration, Family Saga, Friendship, Grief, Historic Elements, Historic Woman's Fiction, Literary Fiction, Murder, Mystery Elements, Second Chance, Setting: Britain, Sociological Relevancy, Woman's Fiction
Published by: Park Row, Park Row Books
Published on: 2 March, 2021
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 18 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary…
Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.
Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.
With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.
Named Most Anticipated of 2021 by Newsweek, Good Housekeeping, Hello! magazine, Oprah.com, Bustle, Popsugar, Betches, Sweet July, and GoodReads!
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.