The Lost Apothecary: Book summary and reviews of The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary

A Novel

by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner X
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

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.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"In The Lost Apothecary, Sarah Penner convincingly weaves three heroines and two timelines into one tale of poison, revenge, and the silent network of women helping other women in a world stacked against them…. A bold, edgy, accomplished debut!" - Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Huntress

"Dark, clever, and wickedly fun, The Lost Apothecary is a true page-turner. Sarah Penner has given us a puzzle box of women's lives, betrayal, power, and history. It's a book that slyly asks what any of us deserve and if, sometimes, that might not be a little poison." - Erika Swyler, bestselling author of The Book of Speculation

"Penner's debut had me completely under its spell. The women of The Lost Apothecary, separated by centuries, seek both revenge and truth in this powerful story. Riveting and utterly original." - Fiona Davis, bestselling author of The Dollhouse

"Sarah Penner kept me guessing until the last page of this addictive, atmospheric novel… Meticulously researched, The Lost Apothecary is both a cure for idleness and a recipe for intrigue. Prepare to be consumed by this carefully plotted, propulsive debut." - Amy Meyerson, bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays

The information about The Lost Apothecary shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

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.

...14 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Sarah Penner Author Biography

Sarah Penner is the debut author of The Lost Apothecary, forthcoming in March 2021 from Park Row Books/HarperCollins in the US and eleven territories worldwide. She and her husband live in St. Petersburg, Florida with their miniature dachshund, Zoe.

Link to Sarah Penner's Website

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more historical fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    Heaven, My Home
    by Attica Locke
    Attica Locke's 2017 novel Bluebird, Bluebird introduced us to Texas Ranger Darren Mathews, who ...
  • Book Jacket: Transcendent Kingdom
    Transcendent Kingdom
    by Yaa Gyasi
    Yaa Gyasi's (pronounced "yah jessie") Transcendent Kingdom is, among other things, a meditation on ...
  • Book Jacket: We Are Not Free
    We Are Not Free
    by Traci Chee
    Author Traci Chee is best known for her young adult fantasy trilogy, The Reader series. We Are Not ...
  • Book Jacket: The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures
    The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures
    by Jennifer Hofmann
    The title of Jennifer Hofmann's perceptive debut novel with its bureaucratese strongly suggests a ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Piranesi
    by Susanna Clarke

    A new novel from the NY Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Find Me
by André Aciman

The author of the worldwide bestseller Call Me by Your Name revisits its complex and beguiling characters.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Memorial Drive

Memorial Drive
by Natasha Trethewey

The moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of tragedy.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L N Take I C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.