Saturday, September 18, 2010
The Apothecary's Daughter
The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
Reviewed by Melissa J. MacDonald
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Medical
Publisher: Bethany House
Lilly Haswell is the brilliant daughter of Bedsley Priors’ local apothecary. Abandoned by her mother when she was but 15 Lilly works hard to care for her father and her simple-minded younger brother. While she toils away in her father’s shop her heart yearns for adventure and for answers to her mother’s mysterious disappearance. An opportunity for change comes in the form of a distant Uncle and Aunt extending an invitation to host her in London. While in London she is exposed to fashionable society and keeps her father’s less than prominent profession under wraps.
As eligible suitors begin calling and clues to her mother’s disappearance come to light Lilly is urgently summoned back to Bedsley Priors. Lilly returns to her small village to find her father ailing, Haswell’s apothecary being challenged by the new competition, and the business affairs in disarray. A planned fortnight visit turns into something much longer as Lilly takes over management of the apothecary. Women are forbidden to work as apothecaries so Lilly does what she must make it appear as if she is working under the direction of her very ill father. The local suspicious doctor seems to have a personal vendetta against Haswell’s and the plot thickens as disaster looms on the horizon. As the story heats up so does the competition to win Lilly’s extraordinary heart as three handsome men vie for her attention.
She’s just a simple apothecary’s daughter who enjoys an occasional unladylike run up a hill, coffee with her dear friend Mary, and gardening with her brother. Who will win her heart and could her mother still be alive?
This book is quietly captivating. You will find yourself keeping the candle burning to find out
what happens next. Lilly is a delightful character with a wonderful mixture of loyalty, stubbornness, dreams, and heartaches. She holds her cards close to her chest (annoyingly too close sometimes!) and you will be kept guessing until the end.
Klassen weaves a compelling story that will open your eyes to the little known world of the apothecary in the early 1800’s. The book is chocked full of historical information and you will feel as if you have temporarily relocated to England. Grab a mug of coffee and a warm blanket and be prepared to take a mini vacation to a time long long ago.
Rated PG for brief references to infidelity