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The Lost Apothecary Hardcover – 2 March 2021
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About the Author
- Publisher : Park Row; Original ed. edition (2 March 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0778311015
- ISBN-13 : 978-0778311010
- Dimensions : 15.85 x 2.87 x 23.37 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 40,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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Sarah Penner has a deft hand at guiding the reader through London, down onto the Thames embankments learning of the Mudlarks and from there into the twisting turning lanes of the old city in the late 1700s.
There are two stories and they link in beautifully, never confusing, as the characters cope with their own problems. On the one hand the apothecary helping women with her herbs and tinctures hidden well away from the city around her where no man would find her nor even dream she existed.
On the other hand there is Caroline, escaping from the distaster her husband has visited on their marriage by his affair Caroline discovered just days before they were supposed to take the trip from Ohio to London to celebrate their tenth anniversary. Instead she comes alone, upset and deeply angry by his conduct.
In London and alone for the first time in her life, as she explores the small vial she discovered she finds that her life was not what she really wanted and so this trip is the beginning of how things might be in the future.
Both women have learned from hard experience that men are not always as they thought them to be, and each in her own way discovers that life alone can be rewarding.
There is no let up from intrigue, interest, and many a deep and meaningful awareness shared only by the women though separated by over two hundred years. It seems nothing changes and it is through her search for the apothecary that Caroline finds her own way through the life she has led for the past ten years.
I was gripped by the book and found it hard to put down. The characters are very real as is the area of London both women found themselves living in.
It was hard to finish and I tried my best to delay the ending but - as all good things do, it came to an end and I was immediately looking for more books by Sarah Penning. So far, this is it, and I now wait to see if there are going to be more, for she is surely an imaginative writer with a sense of true tension in her story.
If you love a bit of mysterious history and enjoy finding how women, long kept under by men, have had their own ways of dealing with life under their thumbs, then this is for you.
Sadly the book was a colossal disappointment.
This book was quite simple in that all the sequence of events were straightforward and the key moments felt rushed as there wasn’t enough build up or details for me to get lost in the book. The dual timeline almost felt like a pointless filler as the current day in Caroline’s point of view was definitely the less exciting timeline. There weren't many new things to discover that you don’t already find out from the past timeline.
It seemed quite unrealistic how easily Caroline discovered the secret apothecary that no one else had over so many years. She somehow formed an immediate deep connection with Nelly and Eliza’s story, causing her to hide some of her findings which didn’t make much sense to me and justify her actions.
I was so curious as to why a 12 year old would request Nelly’s service, but learning about her side of the story was uneventful.
I didn’t feel much excitement during the climax where the resolution and small twist had me asking, oh, is that all? Caroline’s predicament was straightforward and predictable, I never wondered how is she going to get out of this?! Although during the true climax with Nelly and Eliza I did wonder, it was resolved way too easily.
I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. I just didn’t feel the rollercoaster of emotions that I was expecting, I thought I would deep dive into complex characters where I would feel conflicted to root for. Nelly reminds me of Dexter, I really wanted to know what happened that led her to form such code/rules.Although it was tragic, it was glossed over quite quickly so I never felt I was fully invested or rooted for Nelly. Even when Nelly was forced to honour a request to dispense poison intended for a female, it was almost too easy to violate her rules.
There’s not much to say about Caroline or Eliza, there wasn’t much to like or dislike about them as they were simple and straightforward.
This book had so much potential, but the delivery did not live up to expectations (in this case the blurb). Overall it was an ok read that was easy to put down and resume later.
Top reviews from other countries
Set in 1791 and 2021 it is a fictional story about a lady Apothecary who made up poisons and sold them to women to poison their husband's who were abusive to them.
She kept a record in a hidden room but things went wrong when a 12 year old girl made a mistake.
This is entwined with an American lady separated from her husband and comes across a phial in the Thames and a mystery ensues
You feel you are living in 1791 and there are twists and turns.
As a first novel from the author it grips you from page 1 to the end and few novels can do that.