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The Lost Apothecary

A Novel

by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner X
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
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  • Maryanne B. (Little Compton, RI)
    Historical mystery with a twist
    Contemporary London and its 18th century counterpart collide in this historical mystery of a back-alley female apothecary who secretly distributes toxins to women to avenge the men who have betrayed, hurt, and abused them. Intertwining the two timelines with three female characters, Sarah Penner depicts these women struggling with betrayal and loss as they sever the bonds imposed on them by the men in their lives. With its dark side of vengeance along with timely themes of hope and women finding their voices and resilience to unite and support each other, I think feminists and book clubs will enjoy discussing this book.
  • Colleen T. (Lakewood, CO)
    The Lost Apothecary
    I am in awe of the Sarah Penner's ability to create these characters and the world in which they live. I have always liked stories set in London in any era, and for this story to be in the present and the past, makes it captivating. I was fascinated by the idea of a woman helping other women who find themselves in extremely bad situations in an era where there were no other solutions. And to have the current character doing research on the characters in the past was wonderful. I really like the characters, the realistic and gritty descriptions of London in the past and the description of present-day London.
  • Alyce T. (San Antonio, TX)
    The Lost Apothecary
    One of the things that I really liked about The Lost Apothecary was that it was about ordinary people. Most historical novels I have read are the lives of royalty. Sarah Penner did a lot of research in everyday life in the 1790's. Women faced the same mistreatment then as they do today. Nella's approach to helping fellow sufferers was through the Apothecary where she had learned medicine from her mother. Caroline comes to London in present day escaping a cheating husband on their wedding anniversary. She finds a bottle which leads her to research the ancient apothecary and it's proprietor. It was an interesting page turner with twists and turns between the 2 centuries and into the lives of Nella and Caroline. I hope Sarah writes another book.
  • Christine P. (Essex Junction, VT)
    The Lost Apothecary
    I loved this book. Couldn't put it down. Just when I thought I knew where the story was going, it took another turn. The main characters were likeable and sympathetic, and I cared what happened to them, which to me always means a good read. It was most interesting to see how Caroline and Nella each dealt with unfaithful partners 200 years apart, and how their lives and those around them were changed by their decisions. And Caroline's search to uncover Nella's secrets pulled the two story lines together easily and kept me reading when I should have been doing other things. A great book group candidate.
  • Wanda T. (Wilmington, DE)
    The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
    In The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner you will meet three determined women: Nella, Eliza and Caroline and flip between 1791 Victorian London and present day London. Nella is the apothecary in Victorian London who does more than concoct remedies for ladies maladies. Eliza is a young girl who befriends Nella through strange circumstances. Caroline, in present day, comes to London alone after being betrayed by her husband of ten years. Caroline finds a small blue vial while mudlarking (you must read the book to find out about this unusual hobby) and the journey of research, soul searching, murder and revenge begins. As I knew nothing about apothecaries of the late 18th century, I spent some time researching and learned some fascinating information. This is a book that will pique your interest and make you wonder. I thoroughly enjoyed it!!
  • Mary D. (Claremont, CA)
    The Lost Apothecary
    This is a fast-paced historical novel with several unusual twists. The accidental discovery of a small blue vial leads a 21st century woman to delve into the history of a late 18th century apothecary and a possible serial killer. Each chapter goes back and forth between the current day and 1791. Oftentimes, I find it difficult to follow the 'time jumps' but the author (Sarah Penney) clearly distinguishes Between the two time periods, not only by keeping each chapter in a time period but also by designating who is telling the story of each chapter, the apothecary, her accidental assistant, or our modern day scholar. The characters are quite well drawn, as are the physical descriptions. One can easily envisage the secret room of the apothecary, the fog of the river, the library. This book is very well-paced, claiming one's interest from the very first page and keeping the interest going, making it very difficult to put down. If I didn't have other necessary responsibilities, I would have undoubtedly read this book in one sitting; as it was, I stayed up much too late finishing it. I recommend this book for its enjoyment and particularly for its glimpse into the world of women and women apothecaries in the late 18th century.
  • Catherine S. (Marietta, GA)
    Riveting Read
    The first page piqued my interest and the rest of the book continued to hold my attention. The chapters set in 18th century London seem well researched with their descriptions of the people, houses and social gatherings of the times. I found the information on poisons fascinating. I found Nella and Eliza to be much more compelling characters than Caroline. They exhibited intelligence, ingenuity and courage in dealing with the troubles that came their way. Nella, coping with the loss of her child and faithless lover, chose to stand up for other wronged women by using her knowledge of natural poisons to eliminate the offending men. Eliza, a 12 year old maid, chose to stay with Nella and be her helper when disaster was hours away. Caroline was a little too much the stereotypical wronged woman who, within 4 days, solves a 200 year old mystery, stands up to her husband for the first time and then gets accepted at Cambridge. That was all a little too unbelievable to me. There are several twists and turns in the plot that I did not see coming. These, along with the ending helped make The Lost Apothecary a page-turner.
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