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The Lost Apothecary

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A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman. Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register. One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman. Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register. One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register. In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.


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A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman. Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register. One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman. Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register. One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register. In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

30 review for The Lost Apothecary

  1. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    i always admit that im not a fan of history. but then i pick up a brilliant work of historical fiction and i daydream about life as a historian. and right now, im imagining the atmosphere of 1790s london. this story immediate transports the reader into bustling streets, shadow covered back alleys, and dusty apothecary shelves. ive always found old, natural remedies of the past fascinating, so i enjoyed reading about that aspect of the book. it was also rewarding seeing how nelly uses her knowled i always admit that im not a fan of history. but then i pick up a brilliant work of historical fiction and i daydream about life as a historian. and right now, im imagining the atmosphere of 1790s london. this story immediate transports the reader into bustling streets, shadow covered back alleys, and dusty apothecary shelves. ive always found old, natural remedies of the past fascinating, so i enjoyed reading about that aspect of the book. it was also rewarding seeing how nelly uses her knowledge to help other woman. i was completely drawn into her world. and this easily would have been a 5 star read for me if carolines present day POV chapters had been removed entirely. i honestly dont feel like her or her storyline added anything to the book. yeah, i guess its somewhat touching that she felt connected to history, but i think nelly and elizas story deserved those pages more. regardless, this is an captivating portrayal of womens history and some of the secrets london keeps. ↠ 4.5 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    An avenger female who can concoct poisonous formulas to help you get rid of man trouble. This hell of an outstanding synopsis idea put this book on my radar! To the attention of the abusers, cheaters, bullies and most disgusting human wastes who treat the women like doormats: you should beware because there is an intelligent, vicious angel of death who is also apothecary is coming after you! Nella is a ghost, wowed to help the mentally and physically hurt women who needs her support, hiding behin An avenger female who can concoct poisonous formulas to help you get rid of man trouble. This hell of an outstanding synopsis idea put this book on my radar! To the attention of the abusers, cheaters, bullies and most disgusting human wastes who treat the women like doormats: you should beware because there is an intelligent, vicious angel of death who is also apothecary is coming after you! Nella is a ghost, wowed to help the mentally and physically hurt women who needs her support, hiding behind the secret walls of small store, conducting her business discreetly. She is playing by the rules: Rule number 1:She has two basic rules: those concoctions she dispensed cannot be used to harm another woman! Rule number 2:Names of murderer and victims must be recorded at the apothecary’s register. When she starts to form a unique friendship with Eliza Fanning who is only 12, working at the store with her, a string of unfortunate events put her and the women whose names are recorded at register in danger to be exposed. At the present time, we’re introduced to aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell who plans to celebrate her tenth year anniversary with her beloved husband. But as long as she finds out her husband dearest is a cheating bastard, she travels alone to London, meeting with a mudlarking group on the shores of Thames. As she mucks through the water, she finds a glass vial which brings out so many secrets and with the help of an employee from British library she finds herself digging out to solve 200 years long mystery. Those three women’s paths cross and Caroline gets closer to solve the secrets behind apothecary murders! This is so much exciting, mysterious and intriguing than I ever imagine. After finishing this book, I decided to read more about mudlarking and since I’ve read the story about Mary Ann Cotton who had poisoned nearly 21 victims at the 19th century, I want to take a time travel trip and search for more intriguing stories. Overall: Attention capturing, well- developed story with impeccable characterization and high tense, gothic, dark atmosphere won my heart! I truly enjoyed it! I have to congratulate Sarah Penner for her brilliant debut! Special thanks to NetGalley and HARLEQUIN / Park Row for sharing this incredible ARC with me in exchange my honest opinions. Follow me: instagram facebook twitter

  3. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    100 days into 2021 and 100 books have been read. Check out my latest BookTube Video to see which ones are my fave!Annnd here's another video about this gorgeous book! Just finished my BookTube Unboxing & Review Video for a PR box sent from St Martin's Press along with Once Upon a Book Club's March boxes (YA & Adult)! And whew! What a wild ride. LOVED LOVED LOVED the books this round! (Also, fun fact: Down World was my pick as a reading rep for OUABC!!) My reading rep code: MIRANDAREADS10 YouTu 100 days into 2021 and 100 books have been read. Check out my latest BookTube Video to see which ones are my fave!Annnd here's another video about this gorgeous book! Just finished my BookTube Unboxing & Review Video for a PR box sent from St Martin's Press along with Once Upon a Book Club's March boxes (YA & Adult)! And whew! What a wild ride. LOVED LOVED LOVED the books this round! (Also, fun fact: Down World was my pick as a reading rep for OUABC!!) My reading rep code: MIRANDAREADS10 YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads

  4. 4 out of 5

    Yun

    How can a story about a secret apothecary that dispenses poison to women so that they can kill their nearest and dearest be so dull? The Lost Apothecary starts off with much promise. In the 18th century, we meet Nella, an apothecarist who has been making poison for decades. Women come to her when they have nowhere else to turn, and she provides them with the method to kill their problems. When a young girl named Eliza enters her shop, it sets in motion a chain of events from which there is no tu How can a story about a secret apothecary that dispenses poison to women so that they can kill their nearest and dearest be so dull? The Lost Apothecary starts off with much promise. In the 18th century, we meet Nella, an apothecarist who has been making poison for decades. Women come to her when they have nowhere else to turn, and she provides them with the method to kill their problems. When a young girl named Eliza enters her shop, it sets in motion a chain of events from which there is no turning back. In the present, we also follow history buff Caroline as she vacations in London and researches the apothecary from centuries ago. The book blurb completely grabbed me. I was ready for excitement and suspense, especially because it also promises to have a mystery and a little bit of magical realism/fantasy sprinkled in. So I started reading and turning the pages, waiting for something riveting to grab ahold of me. And unfortunately, nothing ever did. To say this story is slow is an understatement. With a dual timeline, there's always this understanding that one of them might be more compelling than the other, and that's definitely what happened here. The storyline with Nella and Eliza is the focal point. But even then, what should have been a fascinating narrative quickly becomes plodding. It feels like the exciting moments are glossed over quickly and the mundane ones are stretched out to fill up the pages. It doesn't help that Caroline's story is completely unnecessary. I can see that the author is trying to juxtapose Caroline's personal growth with what happened to Nella and Eliza, but it just doesn't work, mostly because there are no similarities other than trivial ones. I didn't understand why Caroline would be interested in looking into the apothecary, or why she tried to keep it a secret from everyone, or really anything she did. This story also employs one of my pet peeves, which is that pretty much every conflict comes from a misunderstanding that can be quickly explained away with a sentence or two. Not telling the truth isn't that interesting of a plot device. And also every character makes a mountain out of a molehill, whether it's deciding to panic or pulling meaning out of irrelevant conversations or interactions. For me, this is a case where the book overpromised and underdelivered. Based on the description of the book, I expected mystery and intrigue, darkness, suspense, magical realism. But none of these occurred because the book is 100% historical fiction, and it wasn't a very interesting one at that. Instead, it became a slogfest through an utterly forgettable story, one I'm already having trouble remembering only days after finishing it. This was my Book of the Month pick for March. If you're curious about BOTM or want to find out how to get your first book for $5, click here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    It’s fitting that I write this review today, because 230 years ago today on Feb. 10, 1791, the events that changed the lives of our three main characters: Nella, Eliza and Caroline took place. Who are these three? First, there’s Nella, the apothecary. Her timeline takes place in 1791. After the death of her mother 20 years prior, she’s been running her mother’s apothecary shop which has had a long history of helping women with whatever ails them. The only difference is that where her mother only It’s fitting that I write this review today, because 230 years ago today on Feb. 10, 1791, the events that changed the lives of our three main characters: Nella, Eliza and Caroline took place. Who are these three? First, there’s Nella, the apothecary. Her timeline takes place in 1791. After the death of her mother 20 years prior, she’s been running her mother’s apothecary shop which has had a long history of helping women with whatever ails them. The only difference is that where her mother only sought to help women with their health afflictions, Nella, for reasons her own, also secretly dispenses poisons to women who request it to “remedy” the husbands, lovers, fathers, brothers, or whichever other male has crossed them. Eliza, the maidservant of one of Nella’s clients, is a 12-year old girl who befriends Nella when sent to get poison at the bidding of her mistress, Mrs. Amwell. It’s lovely little Eliza who innocently sets in motion the events that change the lives of these three ladies. Jump to the present day timeline, where we meet Caroline, a history buff, who’s gone on a trip to London that was meant as a ten-year anniversary gift for she and her husband, James, but through circumstance, now finds herself there solo. On a whim one day, she goes mudlarking (discovering buried treasures hidden in the river’s mud) at the River Thames where she discovers a mysterious blue vial that, unbeknownst to her, ties back to Nella and Eliza. In her efforts to find out more about this vial, the story of the past comes to life. I won’t go into all the details of the story, because it’s better to let it tell itself, but this fascinating womens’/historical fiction shines a light on issues experienced by women, both past and present, as they deal with the implications of their place in society. In 1791, that means Nella, Eliza, and the other women of their day having almost no power to right the wrongs they’re experiencing - at least legally, and in the present day, it’s more about how women, like Caroline, often suppress or abandon their own goals in pursuit of keeping harmony in their homes. Despite the themes, I don’t think the intention of the book is to hate on men or paint them in the light that they’re only capable of harming women in some way, nor is it to glorify women harming them in return. Rather, this story illuminates the path that these womens’ choices put them on and the overall effects those choices have on them. I enjoyed both the past and present storylines. Nella and Eliza’s almost mother-daughter-like friendship is sweet, as is the friendship that develops between Caroline and Gaynor, a librarian at the British Library who helps her research the vial. It’s a journey of intrigue, mystery and discovery as the dual storylines unfold. Nella and Eliza’s story has palpable tension as the repercussions of their choices made on and around February 10 come to light, and in the present, it’s one of self-discovery for Caroline, as she uncovers, not only the past, but a clear path for her future. It’s a quieter, slower story. It didn’t grab me and scream in my face for attention - thank goodness - but it beckoned me into these ladies’ lives, nonetheless, and it was a lovely little journey that I recommend you take as well. Sarah Penner has offered a wonderful debut! ★★★★ Thank you to NetGalley, Harlequin - Trade Publishing and Sarah Penner for this ARC in exchange for my honest review. It will be published March 2, 2021.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Claire Smith

    This concept needs to be confiscated from Sarah Penner immediately and given to literally any other writer. Between the lovely cover, the book of the month club endorsement and the promise of a Georgian female serial killer working on behalf of wronged women, I was so excited for this book. To say it was a letdown is a massive understatement. I was expecting a sort of “How’d she get away with it” revenge narrative about a woman who has been pushed to the brink by the cruelty of men and good-old- This concept needs to be confiscated from Sarah Penner immediately and given to literally any other writer. Between the lovely cover, the book of the month club endorsement and the promise of a Georgian female serial killer working on behalf of wronged women, I was so excited for this book. To say it was a letdown is a massive understatement. I was expecting a sort of “How’d she get away with it” revenge narrative about a woman who has been pushed to the brink by the cruelty of men and good-old-fashioned 1790s misogyny. I was expecting a deep dive into this woman’s character that would either be thrillerish or a more lighthearted caper-style romp. I was down for either of those. What I got was The Davinci Code: For Her. With an inexplicable dash of Julie & Julia. The story goes back and forth between 3 POV characters. There’s Nella, the apothecary owner who poisons people, Eliza the twelve-year-old girl who’s a little too chill about poisoning a guy, (so far so good), and then there’s Caroline. Caroline is a present-day character who finds a vial on the bank of the Thames that came from Nella’s apothecary. Caroline has just gone to London without her husband because she found out he was cheating on her. The book did a really good job of making me think her husband sucked right away—but it did an even better job of convincing me that Caroline sucked. She just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and many of her actions defy any kind of human logic (same is true of her husband, I’ll get to that in a minute). Right away we find out that ~she’s not like other girls~ because while everyone else went to coffee shops in college, she poured over ~historical documents ~ and read ~novels from the 1800s~. Things no other college student has ever done. If you think I’m kidding here’s the actual line: “I could lose myself for hours in these seemingly meaningless documents, while my classmates met at coffee shops to study. I couldn’t attribute my unconventional interests to anything specific, I only knew that classroom debates about civil revolution and power-hungry world leaders left me yawning.” (Page 17) (Yes, somehow, we are not even 20 pages in). The first person makes that attitude especially insufferable. She then gets married to James, a man who seems hell bent on making her feel dumb. Great start. Shocked he cheated. Anyway, after college, Caroline seems to be angry that reading books and ~historical documents~ didn’t immediately get her a job. A twist no one saw coming. She almost applies to Cambridge but then doesn’t because she marries James the Jackass—and we all know that you can either have a degree or a husband. She chooses husband and her husband wants to stay in the states. Little known fact I learned from this book, literally no university in the states offers a master’s degree. They only count if they’re from Cambridge. Oxford isn’t mentioned so unclear if their masters’ degrees count for anything. Here’s where Caroline completely lost me: she kinda takes her anger about not being handed a job because she likes books out on… **checks notes** the books? Here’s a direct quote: “…thinking only briefly of the boxes still in our basement, packed away with the dozens of books I’d adored in school. Northanger Abbey, Rebecca, Mrs.Dalloway. What good had they done me?” She swears off books for good and gets a clerk job at her family’s farm. I have a lot of questions about that, but the novel answers none of them. She finally gets a job doing admin work for the family farm apparently unaware that you can still read books if you have a day job. Then she becomes obsessed with getting pregnant. We have not yet hit page 30. Spoilers beyond this point! (I highly recommend you don’t waste your time on this novel, but if you still think you might read it and care about spoilers this is a good place to stop). Here’s a quick rundown of the female characters in this book: Nella: Wishes she was pregnant. Caroline: Wished she was pregnant, spends majority of book thinking she is pregnant. Lady Clarence: Wants to murder her husband’s lover so she can get pregnant. Eliza: Is 12 and thankfully is not pregnant but she does think her period is a ghost which I think deserves an honorable mention. Gaynor: Is actually a historian and is, of course, exempt from pregnancy and thoughts thereof. Yikes. I would be willing to roll with this if it wasn’t such a high percentage of female characters and if it was examined or dealt with in any kind of thoughtful way. It is not. In fact, the desire to be pregnant/ have a child pops up in the weirdest ways at the weirdest times. Caroline by far wins most bizarre. Her husband is puking blood and the EMTs are telling her she should probably get rid of the stuff her husband ingested, especially if there are kids around. She then is upset that she doesn’t have a kid to potentially get poisoned / witness their father get carried away on a stretcher. Which brings me to another weird-ass plot point. James is so upset that Caroline is mad at him for having an affair he willingly drinks just a little bit of toxic Eucalyptus oil to…**checks notes again** get her to stop being mad at him via medical emergency. Because nothing says “honey, let’s get back together” like puking blood in a hotel room in foreign country. And then there’s Caroline’s discovery of the apothecary. This is where we get The Davinci Code: For Her. She finds the vial. Then she miraculously finds the apothecary. There’s just been this door in the middle of urban London that somehow no one else has seen since 1790. No one tore it down to build luxury flats! The Nazis bombed around it! Everyone who lives on that alley just kind of pretends it’s not there! She finds it in about two minutes. She finds all these documents inside from 1791, touches them with her bare hands, messes up one of them and then ultimately just takes cellphone pics and leaves them all there. She then tells Gaynor, her buddy at the British Library all about it and Gaynor thinks it’s interesting but sees no need to go get the documents out of the forgotten cellar thing. Historians and librarians are both known for being super chill about old documents being exposed to the elements, so this makes sense. Caroline then reads the pictures of the documents and reads some articles Gaynor the Historian found for her. She’s shocked to find out that they match up perfectly and she’s able to jump to all sorts of conclusions without so much as an additional Google search. Incredible research skills. All that time she spent not at coffee shops clearly paid off. You may be wondering what’s going on in the 1790s, apothecary of poisons part of the novel. You know, the part that sounded interesting. Well, it was somehow really boring despite there being two murders and a police chase. Oh, at one point the 12-year-old throws herself off of Blackfriars Bridge but she survives impact and icy water because she… **checks notes a third time** drank a tincture that made her really warm… At the end the police are pretty sure Nella is the poisoner they’re after, but ultimately let her go because they decide in the middle of the street, after the chase, that they don’t have enough evidence to arrest a low-ish class woman. So that’s nice of them. Really feels authentic for 1791. At the end of the book Caroline does dump James & the Giant Jackass, but possibly only temporarily. There’s an implication that after some time apart and after Caroline finishes her masters’ degree in Cambridge they could get back together. It’s left open-ended. I don’t have a joke here, I just hate that. Caroline does submit an application to Cambridge. I guess she forgave the books for not getting her a job after all. It’ll be tough to get in of course. Especially because that’s literally the only school where you can get a Master’s. She talks to Gaynor The Actual Professional Researcher about how she wants to write a dissertation about the apothecary. Guess what Caroline is getting a degree in? If you guessed History you are entirely too logical for this novel. No, she’s getting a degree in English literature specifically she’s applied for a program that covers “18th century and Romanticism” You may notice that’s two centuries and two very different periods of literature jammed together, but at this point who’s counting. This book ends all too soon. We are robbed of the Cambridge professor’s reaction when she tells them her dissertation will be—not on a work of literature—but a ledger she found in a mysterious basement. Would love to be a fly on the wall for that one. In short, my sanity has suffered. 0/10 do not recommend.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a Historical Fiction, but I would not call this a Historical Fantasy Fiction. I did not find any fantasy in this book, but there is a little bit of Magical Realism in this book. This book jumps from the 1700's told by Nella and Eliza point of view and current day in the point of view of Caroline. Caroline's life in coming apart, and her life runs into the story of Nella and Eliza. I have to say I loved Nella and Eliza's character and storyline. I liked Caroline storyline, but I could hav This is a Historical Fiction, but I would not call this a Historical Fantasy Fiction. I did not find any fantasy in this book, but there is a little bit of Magical Realism in this book. This book jumps from the 1700's told by Nella and Eliza point of view and current day in the point of view of Caroline. Caroline's life in coming apart, and her life runs into the story of Nella and Eliza. I have to say I loved Nella and Eliza's character and storyline. I liked Caroline storyline, but I could have done without it. I think that this book could have been so much better without jumping the time periods. I wanted to get to know Nella and Eliza character a lot more. I could not put this book down because I had to know how this story ended. The ending was so good. This book is well written, and the plot keeps you reading. I have to say I really love the cover of this book, and the cover really fits the story in every way. I just have to say I am starting to hate when they say a book is something like (Historical Fantasy), but it as no Fantasy. I also did not pick this book up because it says it is Historical Fantasy, and I do not really do Fantasy. Lucky one of my goodreads friends posted a review that said it did not have much Fantasy, so I decided to get it a chance. (*) I picked this book as my March 2021 book for Book of the Month https://www.mybotm.com/zr12wnytgc8?sh...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Concealment The Lost Apothecary is a beautiful tapestry of mystery, murder, suspense, guilt, discovery, and historical adventure as it unfolds in the dark alleyways of late eighteenth-century London. With the second period in modern times, Caroline Parcewell is an American, visiting London on what was planned as her tenth wedding anniversary celebration, until she discovered her husband had an affair. Now she is using the trip to gain space to think about where her life is going and why she never Concealment The Lost Apothecary is a beautiful tapestry of mystery, murder, suspense, guilt, discovery, and historical adventure as it unfolds in the dark alleyways of late eighteenth-century London. With the second period in modern times, Caroline Parcewell is an American, visiting London on what was planned as her tenth wedding anniversary celebration, until she discovered her husband had an affair. Now she is using the trip to gain space to think about where her life is going and why she never followed her dreams as an aspiring historian. In a mudlarking gathering on the banks of the Thames, Caroline discovers a small bluish vial with a strange image of a bear carved into the side. Over two hundred years earlier, Nella Clavinger, followed on with her mother’s apothecary shop and held tight to the principle “the importance of providing a safe haven – a place of healing – for women.” There is however one major difference, Nella also makes poisons to kill men if they have betrayed a woman. All her commissions are recorded in her register, a process started by her mother. While Nella is developed as a wonderfully empathetic character, suffering physical and psychological pain, she is a serial killer known only to women. Because Nella is hard-working, caring, and vulnerable it is easy to forget that she has a very dark side without obvious remorse. “My precious register was a record of life and death; an inventory of the many women who sought potions from here, the darkest of apothecary shops.” One day a twelve-year-old girl, Eliza Fanning, visits the apothecary on an errand from her mistress Mrs Amwell to request a potion to kill her husband Thompson Amwell. After the deed is complete Eliza comes back to the shop while her widowed mistress embarks on travels and Eliza feels the ghosts of Mr Amwell haunt her. Eliza and Nella develop a friendship, both finding comfort in each other’s company and a way to work together. The relationship between the two is wonderful and their dialogue is engaging with a feel of historical authenticity. Each chapter is well staged as we flip between the three POV narratives of each woman. The little blue vial becomes the seductive link between the two time periods. Caroline develops a friendship with Gaynor from the British Library, and their research opens fascinating threads that Caroline explores in the hidden and forgotten corners of London. Of surprise, Bear Alley still exists, if all but forgotten, and the web of intrigue stretches between the three women. The storytelling in Sarah Penner’s novel is clever and entertaining, engrossing with a sinister undertone, and draws that amazing atmospheric blend between modern and historical London. I had an issue accepting the deep friendships developed after a few meetings and the thought processes with Caroline as she was caught in compromising situations. There is a tainted matter of betrayal throughout the story, mainly coming from men who pay the ultimate price. I found the following quote very telling and thoughtful, although a sad position to accept. “First, there was trust. Then, there was betrayal. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot be betrayed by someone you do not trust.” The Lost Apothecary is a highly enjoyable novel that flows at a great pace through two eras of London as a long-held mystery of the apothecary murders is gradually solved. I would recommend this book, and I would like to thank Legend Press and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in return for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Sarah Penner's debut is an intriguing and atmospheric piece of historical fiction revolving around women, set in the tail end of the 18th century in London, a story that shifts from the past and the present. In the 1790s, a once reputable apothecary, Nella, has ventured into darker and more dangerous territory, that of dispensing poisons to desperate women in dire situations due to the men who have damaged or wronged them. She intends that no woman is harmed, and she records her transactions in Sarah Penner's debut is an intriguing and atmospheric piece of historical fiction revolving around women, set in the tail end of the 18th century in London, a story that shifts from the past and the present. In the 1790s, a once reputable apothecary, Nella, has ventured into darker and more dangerous territory, that of dispensing poisons to desperate women in dire situations due to the men who have damaged or wronged them. She intends that no woman is harmed, and she records her transactions in a register, the names, including that of the poisoner and the victim. The young child Eliza Fanning is a sparky and bright personality who is sent to get poison, and a friendship develops between Nella and Eliza. Unsurprisingly, Nella's intentions run into difficulties when it comes to implementing them. In the present, the American Caroline Parcewell's marriage has run into difficulties, she has made the unpalatable discovery that her husband of ten years has been unfaithful to her. She finds herself alone as she travels to London on her wedding anniversary. She decides to join a mudlarkers group in search of finds from the past in the muds of the banks of the River Thames, unearthing an old vial. This allows her to indulge her love of history as she engages in historical research and the mystery that is two centuries old, and a string of unsolved murders in her search for the truth. In this entertaining and engaging character driven read, of secrets, vengeance, betrayal, being a women, relationships between women, friendship, self discovery, poisons and murder, the past and present connect in the most unexpected of ways. This is a relatively short and suspenseful novel from Penner, well written, which beautifully evokes the London of the time, and includes intricate historical details of the period. The position of women is a central theme, and the narrative reflects the culture and the social norms and attitudes of the time. My favourite timeline was definitely the more compelling historical one rather than the present one, there is an unevenness in how the connections unfold and in storytelling, but I liked how Caroline ends up working her way through the challenges that she faces. Many thanks to Legend Press for an ARC.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This was a dual timeline narrative, with one part of the story in present day London, and one in London of the 1700’s. It was well written and interesting. In the 1700’s timeline, we have Nella, the secretive and isolated matron of the apothecary, spending her days allowing women of London to obtain potions and natural poisons to take care of the wayward men in their lives. Also narrating chapters in this timeline is Eliza, who at 12 years old was sent to obtain a poison for her mistress and the This was a dual timeline narrative, with one part of the story in present day London, and one in London of the 1700’s. It was well written and interesting. In the 1700’s timeline, we have Nella, the secretive and isolated matron of the apothecary, spending her days allowing women of London to obtain potions and natural poisons to take care of the wayward men in their lives. Also narrating chapters in this timeline is Eliza, who at 12 years old was sent to obtain a poison for her mistress and then becomes enchanted with Nella’s shop. These chapters were rich and full of the feel of the times. I was able to connect with both characters and felt their individual struggles and limits even with their different ages. I would have loved the addition of more focus on Eliza as well nearer to the end. In present day, we have Caroline, visiting London on her 10th wedding Anniversary and we follow her story after she finds a clue that takes her on a journey to figure out it’s origins while also trying to sort out some issues with her own life. I thought the switch between the timelines was really well written and was able to switch between them seamlessly. I did find the present day story line a bit more of a challenge, there were a few moments where I questioned whether something would unfold in that way or why the character had certain feelings or priorities. As I read, I found myself wanting to get back to each timeline as I left it in equal amounts which was great. I hoped for a bit more connection between the character narratives then I got but I feel like that was really a ‘me’ issue. Just past midway through, I thought, here we go and from there until the end, I thought it would pick up a bit in connection. The plot did advance quicker and things accelerated in both timelines which was nice. I just kept thinking it was going in ways that it didn’t. The audio was well done, it was very nice to have three different narrators, I love audiobooks that are going in this direction, it is so much cleaner than one narrator adjusting her voice or cadence. I did find Nella’s voice a bit deep and slow which made for a bit of an adjustment from the other two characters though. All in all, this was a lovely book about the self discovery of the characters. I thought it was going to be a bit more of a thriller/mystery, but I think, for me, it’s best categorized as historical literary fiction and in that category, I thought it excelled. It showed women throughout the years struggling to fend for and make choices for themselves while not always being in company of the greatest of men. And if that appeals to you, I ++ suggest that you see if the lost apothecary has any tinctures for you 🧪 **Thank-you to NetGalley and Harper Audio/Harlequin Audio for an advanced reader copy of this audiobook which releases March 2nd, 2021**

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    Nella Clavinger in the late eighteenth century is a ‘friend’ to women and a ‘brewer of secrets’ and twelve year old maid Eliza Fanning is sent to consult her on behalf of her mistress. In the twenty first century American Caroline Parcewell is on vacation and takes up Bachelor Alf’s offer to join a mudlarking search. Her discovery on the banks of the Thames takes her in a journey of investigation, self discovery and realisation. The story is told by these three women. This is fabulous storytelli Nella Clavinger in the late eighteenth century is a ‘friend’ to women and a ‘brewer of secrets’ and twelve year old maid Eliza Fanning is sent to consult her on behalf of her mistress. In the twenty first century American Caroline Parcewell is on vacation and takes up Bachelor Alf’s offer to join a mudlarking search. Her discovery on the banks of the Thames takes her in a journey of investigation, self discovery and realisation. The story is told by these three women. This is fabulous storytelling which is so immersive, compelling and very hard to put down. The narrative is visual and so you feel the squelch of the Thames sticky mud, the soot blackened apothecary comes to life before your eyes and so you see what the characters see. There’s a magical atmosphere permeating the narrative and blending with ghostly, gothic overtones. You feel the chills, the goosebumps, the hairs standing up on the back of your neck and sense the impending danger. The use of language for Nella and Eliza is authentic as is the historical context. I like the contrast between then and now but which also demonstrates clearly that some things never change. The characterisation is very good with them all being well developed. The plot unfolds at a good pace with twists and turns, keeping you wanting to find out the outcome and fate of the key characters. There’s suspicion and tension, threat and manipulation in both time periods, fear and betrayal of trust with a desire for revenge which leads to the alteration of life’s course, demonstrating too that lives can change on a dime. For Caroline, the trip to London gives her the time to think but which also awakens something dormant or suppressed in her. In some ways all the women wear disguises of some sort which are revealed to us as the storyline progresses especially as truths are dredged up and brought to the surface. Overall, this is a captivating and clever story which is very well written. It’s dark, a bit sinister, intense, magical, ghostly with the two parallel timelines blending seamlessly. This is good escapist reading which I recommend. With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Legend Press for the much appreciated arc for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sheyla ✎

    Two timelines. Two different centuries. Women impacted by deceit. In 1791, we meet Nella. She is a woman in her forties. She owns an apothecary just like her mother did before her. The difference is that while her mother used it for healing purposes, Nella after a terrible event in her life has decided to use it for murder. Nella supplies poisons to women who want to eliminate a man in their lives. It can be a brother, a father, a husband. Nella's only rules are not to harm women and to keep a l Two timelines. Two different centuries. Women impacted by deceit. In 1791, we meet Nella. She is a woman in her forties. She owns an apothecary just like her mother did before her. The difference is that while her mother used it for healing purposes, Nella after a terrible event in her life has decided to use it for murder. Nella supplies poisons to women who want to eliminate a man in their lives. It can be a brother, a father, a husband. Nella's only rules are not to harm women and to keep a log with the names of the women who requested her help. Eliza Fanning is a twelve-year-old who has been sent to work as an employee for her mistress, Mrs. Amwell. Just like so many other women, Mrs. Amwell is in need on Nella's help and this serves as a conduit for Eliza to meet Nella. Eliza is immediately taken with Nella and her shop. She wants to learn more about the poison and wants to help her around the store. In the present, we meet Caroline Parcewell who is in London celebrating her ten-year marriage anniversary alone. Just before her planned trip with her husband, she learns about his infidelity. She needs time to process what she has learned and to take some decisions about where she wants her life to go. A finding during a mudlarking event will make Caroline go digging with the help of Gaynor, a librarian at the British Library, about the apothecary and the murders which occurred in the 18th century. An original debut by Sarah Penner. It was a slow burn that had good characterization and ambiance. I had some issues with the part of the story that involved Caroline. At some point, she is in trouble but the resolution felt rushed and simplified. Cliffhanger: No 3.5/5 Fangs A complimentary copy was provided by HARLEQUIN/ Park Row via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

  13. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Once again, we have an historical fiction using the split time period device. And once again, I was not taken by the present day story. The historic story grabbed me. It’s 1791 and Nella is a woman’s apothecary, providing formulas for all sorts of women’s problems, especially problem men. When 12 year old Eliza is sent to her shop for a “remedy”, they form a friendship. Unfortunately, it’s not long before a client seeks to violate one of Nella’s rules (harm no women) and everything is put at ris Once again, we have an historical fiction using the split time period device. And once again, I was not taken by the present day story. The historic story grabbed me. It’s 1791 and Nella is a woman’s apothecary, providing formulas for all sorts of women’s problems, especially problem men. When 12 year old Eliza is sent to her shop for a “remedy”, they form a friendship. Unfortunately, it’s not long before a client seeks to violate one of Nella’s rules (harm no women) and everything is put at risk. Caroline is the character from the present day. She’s come to London on what should have been her tenth anniversary trip. But she just caught her husband cheating, so instead she’s on her own. While mudlarking, she finds an antique apothecary’s bottle and her interest is piqued. Caroline seems nothing more than a means to advance Nella’s story. Caroline herself is the typical story of a woman growing into her own independence. I had one other problem with this historical fiction. I want my historical fiction to be as much a lesson where I learn about a time or place, as a good story. I didn’t feel I really learned anything here. It’s a decent story and if that’s all you want, it does the trick. It’s a quick bit of entertainment. I would have preferred a story that delved deeper into the characters, especially Nella. The endings for both stories seem contrived and the pieces of the story fall too easily in place. Oh, if only my historic research was as easy as Caroline’s! I both read and listened to this book. The writing lacked a meaningful difference in the voices, despite a 200+ year difference in time. The narrators made up for this a little, and I give them credit for bringing the characters to life. My thanks to netgalley, Harper Audio and Harlequin Books for advance copies of this story.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    "Fancy joining us for mudlarking?" These words would soon jump start Caroline Percewell's unfulfilled dreams of pursuing a graduate degree and researching obscure documents, rare books and perhaps propel her to further exploration of past centuries. Caroline had expected to celebrate her tenth anniversary with her husband James in London. While James had been climbing the corporate ladder with the goal to become a partner in his firm, Caroline's happiness had played second fiddle. First love, th "Fancy joining us for mudlarking?" These words would soon jump start Caroline Percewell's unfulfilled dreams of pursuing a graduate degree and researching obscure documents, rare books and perhaps propel her to further exploration of past centuries. Caroline had expected to celebrate her tenth anniversary with her husband James in London. While James had been climbing the corporate ladder with the goal to become a partner in his firm, Caroline's happiness had played second fiddle. First love, then marriage, now betrayal! James's affair had Caroline reeling. Why not go mudlarking? "The Thames runs straight through the city of London...Little remnants of history...can be found right here in the mud...countless souls scrounging about in the river for something old, something valuable...". Caroline spotted a translucent sky blue glass, "very much like an apothecary's vial...the glass...quite uneven in places...this glass object-delicate and yet still intact-somewhat like myself...the discontent within me seizing the possibility of adventure, an excursion into my long-lost enthusiasm for era's past". First stop: The British Library! 1791. Netta's story. "I was wonderfully in love. The first betrayal. The first victim. The beginning of a stained legacy. I was not just an apothecary, but a murderer. A master of disguise...". In an outer room, only an old grain barrel, a hiding place for letters with requests from women. "My shop was buried deep behind a cupboard wall at the base of a twisted alleyway in the darkest depths of London...This was my mother's shop long before it was mine. The tinctures she dispersed were meant only for good: benign herbal remedies...but beneath the ink strokes of my register hid betrayal, anguish...and dark secrets...My precious calfskin register- a record of life and death; an inventory of the many women who sought potions from here, the darkest of apothecary shops." "Betrayal was why I began to dispense poisons...to carry the secrets of these women, to record them in my register, to protect and aid them." In present day London, Caroline searched the British Library databases for information on the vial, hand etched with a tiny bear, the vial unearthed from the muddy Thames. She hoped to time date this item which perhaps was centuries old. Unfolding in a dual timeline, present day and the years between 1791-1816, the narrators Nella, Eliza, and Caroline tell their stories. Caroline tries to piece together the life of Nella, the apothecary who operated a shop in a back alley two hundred years ago. At the shop, Nella conversed with twelve year old Eliza, who expressed an interest in becoming an apothecary apprentice. Nella explained that she never rested. "Something is always steaming, brewing, stewing, soaking at all hours of the night" and that this has taken a toll on her life. Eliza, a curious, observant, wide-eyed child proved to be a challenge to Nella as apothecary, a brewer of secrets, and a friend to all women. "The Lost Apothecary" by Sarah Penner was a fascinating melding of the secrets of a hidden apothecary shop and the reemergence of a talented researcher's quest and pursuit of higher education and her search to rediscover herself as well as hidden treasures from the past. I highly recommend this historical fiction read. Thank you HARLEQUIN/Park Row for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    myo (myonna reads)

    good for her

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica | JustReadingJess

    I LOVED The Lost Apothecary. From the very beginning I was drawn into Nella and Caroline’s stories. The past and present intertwine in this great novel. The chapters alternate between Nella and Caroline’s stories. These characters are complex and trying to do the best they can. Nella is trying to help women especially her new friend Eliza. Caroline is trying to decide what makes her happy. The Lost Apothecary shows how far some women would go to rebel against a man’s world. I loved how unique th I LOVED The Lost Apothecary. From the very beginning I was drawn into Nella and Caroline’s stories. The past and present intertwine in this great novel. The chapters alternate between Nella and Caroline’s stories. These characters are complex and trying to do the best they can. Nella is trying to help women especially her new friend Eliza. Caroline is trying to decide what makes her happy. The Lost Apothecary shows how far some women would go to rebel against a man’s world. I loved how unique this story was and highly recommend The Lost Apothecary. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Lorna Bennett, Lauren Anthony, and Lauren Irwin. All narrators did a great job and provided the perfect voices for the characters. I thought the narration added to the story and I’m so glad I listened to The Lost Apothecary. Thank you Harlequin Trade Publishing, Harper Audio, Harlequin Audio, Park Row, NetGalley, and Edelweiss for The Lost Apothecary. Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Holly B

    3.5 STARS I'm torn between two timelines... 1791 Timeline was much more enjoyable for me. 18th century London, an apothecary (Nella) who creates poisons to help women who need to "rid" themselves of husbands who have harmed them in some way. Her hidden shop is located in a secret wall on a dark alley where she creates her concoctions, creating a legacy of revenge. Her visitors know of her and come knocking. The modern day timeline about Caroline felt disconnected and foriegn to the historical s 3.5 STARS I'm torn between two timelines... 1791 Timeline was much more enjoyable for me. 18th century London, an apothecary (Nella) who creates poisons to help women who need to "rid" themselves of husbands who have harmed them in some way. Her hidden shop is located in a secret wall on a dark alley where she creates her concoctions, creating a legacy of revenge. Her visitors know of her and come knocking. The modern day timeline about Caroline felt disconnected and foriegn to the historical storyline. It didn't seem necessary. It felt almost like I was reading a different book, it didn't work for me. Promising premise, but lacking the suspenseful, gothic atmosphere that I was expecting. My favorite character was the dramatic Lady Clarence, wife of Lord Clarence. Now she was a real hoot! Still a unique read that many have loved. Library Loan 5/9/2021

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elle

    Well I think this is another case of my expectations being far different than what the book ended up being. Maybe I can’t really fault the author for that, but honestly after reading the description I just thought this was going to be something else entirely. I mean based off of these quotes: “female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them” “unsolved ‘apothecary murders’ that haunted London“ “not everyone will survive” I thought that The Lost Apothe Well I think this is another case of my expectations being far different than what the book ended up being. Maybe I can’t really fault the author for that, but honestly after reading the description I just thought this was going to be something else entirely. I mean based off of these quotes: “female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them” “unsolved ‘apothecary murders’ that haunted London“ “not everyone will survive” I thought that The Lost Apothecary would be a kind of dark, twisted tale of morally-grey women who are acting on some of their most sinister impulses. I wanted to see more of a tug of war between their feelings of self-preservation and self-interest. Instead, this felt sanitized. I wasn’t conflicted at all while reading, mostly because there was very little conflict. The three main characters, an old apothecary named Nella & a young girl Eliza from the 18th century, as well as Caroline, a young woman in modern day, spent most of their time hemming and hawing over the possible implications of things that don’t ever come to pass. In a word, I was bored. I wanted more from this book. It was as if the author wrote a feel-good version of what could have been a really interesting story. All the components promised in the synopsis were there: poisons, secrets, infidelity, etc. But I just did not feel like the stakes were raised to that level. And the instinct to tie everything up with a bow at the end missed the mark for me. I don’t know. I know a lot of people have liked it so far. I think the impulse to create a certain kind of Strong Female Character has removed any ambiguity from their actions. It’s okay for there to be complicated female characters who are sometimes in the wrong. The men depicted in this book are so flat and inconsequential that it’s hard to even believe they have the capacity to oppress anybody. The author really pulled out all the stops to try and get the main characters to seem like they had no choice and every justification, but I just couldn’t get on board. If you’re going to be an apothecary who dispenses poisons to scorned women, then own it, don’t pretend it’s some kind of noble cause. I thought the writing outside of that was good, though. I also did like the narrators, although one of their voices started to sound really robotic if I cranked up the speed. That seems more likely to be a production issue, and I think the three women who voiced the different points of view, Nella (Lorna Bennet), Caroline (Lauren Anthony) and Eliza (Lauren Irwin), did an excellent job. I’m interested to potentially read more from Sarah Penner, but this just wasn’t my type of book. There’s a lot of stories coming out along these lines lately that better represent the complexity of women from history. Still, I’m sure plenty of readers will enjoy The Lost Apothecary as is. *Thanks to Harper/Harlequin Audio & Netgalley for an advance copy!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Beata

    I am aware that my feedback on this novel will take me to the minority club, unfortunately, I expected much, much more ... Having waited for several months, I was eager to start the audiobook, however, despite good narrators, the book did not deliver. Why? Some moments I found implausible, and I do not mean the dual timeline, not at all. In fact, if you asked me when the book is set, I would be able to define the time only because the dates are given in the book. I did not find anything unique a I am aware that my feedback on this novel will take me to the minority club, unfortunately, I expected much, much more ... Having waited for several months, I was eager to start the audiobook, however, despite good narrators, the book did not deliver. Why? Some moments I found implausible, and I do not mean the dual timeline, not at all. In fact, if you asked me when the book is set, I would be able to define the time only because the dates are given in the book. I did not find anything unique about the historical background, it well could be one hundred years earlier or later. I did find the past much more interesting than the present since the problems Caroline has to tackle do not make me care for her. Sounds like I am heartless, that may be, but it is the superficial way in which they are depicted that did not evoke emotions in me. The best part is mudlarking of which I have read a book or two and which sounds fascinating to me. Still, I am glad to have read a book which is so popular with readers at present and I do hope it brings them more joy than it was in my case.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    3.5 stars. The Lost Apothecary , Sarah Penner's debut novel, features dual-narrative historical fiction with a dash of mystery and drama. In late-1700s England, Nella works as an apothecary. Like her mother before her, Nella’s potions and powders and salves bring comfort and aid to women for their physical and emotional issues. But unlike her mother, Nella’s business has a more sinister side—she’s known secretly as the woman to see when a woman needs to take care of an abusive or philandering h 3.5 stars. The Lost Apothecary , Sarah Penner's debut novel, features dual-narrative historical fiction with a dash of mystery and drama. In late-1700s England, Nella works as an apothecary. Like her mother before her, Nella’s potions and powders and salves bring comfort and aid to women for their physical and emotional issues. But unlike her mother, Nella’s business has a more sinister side—she’s known secretly as the woman to see when a woman needs to take care of an abusive or philandering husband. The last thing she is expecting is a 12-year-old client, but Eliza Fanning is there at the behest of her employer. This encounter awakens Eliza’s interest in Nella’s work—both the light and the dark sides. But Eliza’s presence involves her in a scandal that has the potential to destroy Nella and her business—and perhaps both of their lives. Meanwhile, more than 200 years later, Caroline is visiting London alone on what was supposed to be an anniversary trip with her husband. Reeling from betrayal, the aspiring historian spends the afternoon exploring items found on the muddy shore of the Thames. It is there she discovers an apothecary vial, which awakens the dormant researcher in her, and it’s not long before she’s discovering a series of unsolved “apothecary murders” from the late 1700s... I’ll admit I probably fell prey to the hype around The Lost Apothecary and was SO excited to read it. While I enjoyed the way Penner writes, and definitely found myself captivated by much of the Nella/Eliza storyline, the Caroline story had very little appeal to me. I understand the message that Penner was trying to convey but it dragged the story down for me, and I found myself skimming Caroline’s parts by the end. I honestly think the Nella/Eliza storyline could've carried the story on its own. That being said, The Lost Apothecary was still a quick, compelling read, and I look forward to seeing what’s next in Penner’s career. Plus, I know others have loved the book, so my expectations might have been too high, plus historical fiction isn't really my preferred genre. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html. Check out my list of the best books of the last decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    4.5 stars Take a step into the time when life was difficult for women, where men ruled the day, where choices were limited for those who were trapped in situations that they couldn't escape. This was London in the 1790's, a place that often seem dark and dismal for its many inhabitants, a place of intrigue, a place of secrets. Find a small shop hidden away in Back Alley that tried to aid these women in finding solutions and a tinge of magic in their journey. Follow a present day woman, newly arr 4.5 stars Take a step into the time when life was difficult for women, where men ruled the day, where choices were limited for those who were trapped in situations that they couldn't escape. This was London in the 1790's, a place that often seem dark and dismal for its many inhabitants, a place of intrigue, a place of secrets. Find a small shop hidden away in Back Alley that tried to aid these women in finding solutions and a tinge of magic in their journey. Follow a present day woman, newly arrived in London with her own feeling of despair "mudlarking" her way to a discovery that would change her life and you will also find your way into this wonderful debut story by Sarah Penner. The world of the present goes head to head with the world of the past in the new book The Lost Apothecary. The books begin with a dejected Caroline Pacewell who has just had her world blown apart upon learning of her husband’s unfaithfulness. Deciding to get away on which would have been their tenth anniversary, Caroline decides to go to London, their second honeymoon destination, by herself. Looking for something to fill her time trying to forget her sorrow, she receives an invite to go mudlarking. Little does Caroline realize that through this mudlarking in discovering a vial, her life will take a most unexpected turn. Following the vial with its bear etching, Caroline enlists the aid of a British librarian, well educated in the world of maps of the old London. They form a team and what Caroline learns is enough to make her become the person she always wanted to be. Go back to 1792, where we find Nella, a women well versed in the art of healing, but after a devastating journey with a man named Frederick, Nella has turned her attention to a darker side, assisting women being burdened with despicable husbands and being able to rid themselves of these men. Yes, poisons are what she secretly deals in and with a book in which she inscribes the poisoner and their victim. Into her shop, one day comes a young girl, Eliza Fanning, and they strike up an eventual friendship. However, Eliza is young and foolish and she sets in motion a series of events that threaten not only Nella and herself, but also the people who are named in the book. This clever story was definitely intriguing, a walk back into another time and place, a way towards healing for women who made a connection through time and distance. I recommend this story for its ability to skillfully connect the past and the present and make the times and situations come alive and real. Thank you to Sarah Penner, Park Row Books, and NetGalley for a copy of this book that has just recently published. If you enjoy a story mixed with magic and discovery, this is the one for you.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    Hurray to a fantastic debut novel to Sarah Penner This dual timezone Historical Fiction novel was a nice change of pace and theme for me! I listened to the audiobook and the narrators definitely itched it up a notch for me! In 1791 in London, England Nella has continued running her mother's old Apothecary. Nella has had a difficult life and now sees it as her business to help women who are treated very badly by the men in their lives - she concocts potions that helps to be rid of them forever. One Hurray to a fantastic debut novel to Sarah Penner This dual timezone Historical Fiction novel was a nice change of pace and theme for me! I listened to the audiobook and the narrators definitely itched it up a notch for me! In 1791 in London, England Nella has continued running her mother's old Apothecary. Nella has had a difficult life and now sees it as her business to help women who are treated very badly by the men in their lives - she concocts potions that helps to be rid of them forever. One day a young girl named Eliza comes calling and this is the beginning of troubled times. Two hundred years later in present time a woman named Caroline is visiting London on what should have been a 10th wedding anniversary holiday. Instead she is alone and pondering her thoughts. While "mudlarking" along the River Thames she comes across a blue vial. She goes on a quest to find out its meaning and who it belonged to. I was engrossed throughout the whole book. It's slower paced but meaningful and I think Sarah Penner is a promising author. I really enjoyed this unique story with strong female characters that comes to a neatly packed ending.

  23. 4 out of 5

    CLUB GEMILL

    Sarah Penner is A Superstar! I was not expecting to Love this book as much I did. She is now one of my Favorite authors! I have never rooted so hard for any characters in my life. This book had my heart beating so fast! My emotions were all over the place. I might of even cried a little bit. Maybe a tear or two. Lol! I wish I could give 6 stars instead of 5. I would Highly recommend reading this book ASAP! 🥇🥇🥇🥇

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ink_Drinker

    A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman. Rule Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register. What a phenomenal debut novel for Sarah Penner!! I am so honored to be one of the first to read this book!! I had no idea what this book was about when I requested a c A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman. Rule Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register. What a phenomenal debut novel for Sarah Penner!! I am so honored to be one of the first to read this book!! I had no idea what this book was about when I requested a copy! I didn’t read the blurb and never heard of the author!! What first lured me into reading this was the beautiful cover!! Having said that, I ended up listening to it on audio and I am so glad that I did. The author used three female narrators to portray the three main characters and it was a brilliant!! They really drew you into the story and made it easy to follow. I’ll be buying a physical copy, just because I’m a sucker for a beautiful book cover!! Historical Fiction, strong female characters, dual timelines and a mysterious twist....what more could you ask for? The story takes place in two timelines, the 1790’s and present day London. The character development of Caroline, Nella and Eliza’s was so well done that I was invested in their lives from the first page! The premise of the book is about a secret network of women, an Apothecary Shoppe and a legacy of poison and revenge. I really enjoyed how each character’s story from both time periods were told, intertwined and all came together in the end. This book is beautifully written. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction, Mystery, and strong female characters!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tamar...light at the end of the tunnel?

    I enjoyed this book told from two women's POVs and that of a 12 year old child at the brink of womanhood, in two timelines separated by more than three centuries. There are common threads and common plot elements and tons of atmosphere from then and now. Both women are deceived with different results, one is unwittingly poisoned while the other unwittingly poisons, both are pursued by the police, and both use their experience to take control over their lives and achieve personal satisfaction in I enjoyed this book told from two women's POVs and that of a 12 year old child at the brink of womanhood, in two timelines separated by more than three centuries. There are common threads and common plot elements and tons of atmosphere from then and now. Both women are deceived with different results, one is unwittingly poisoned while the other unwittingly poisons, both are pursued by the police, and both use their experience to take control over their lives and achieve personal satisfaction in their chosen vocations. I will not express my opinions of the men in this novel, lest I be accused of misandry😜 But seriously, girlfriends, there are other ways (albeit less satisfying) to rid yourselves of deceitful manipulating menfolk.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Penner

    Dear Reader, Last summer, long before lockdown, I found myself standing in the mud of the River Thames in central London, wearing blue rubber gloves and a pair of old tennis shoes. I was mudlarking—hunting the river for old treasures, which is the inspiration for my debut novel, The Lost Apothecary. Given such an adventure would be impossible right now, I hope my novel provides you an opportunity to escape back in time and embark on a story that begins with one woman’s discovery of a mysterious v Dear Reader, Last summer, long before lockdown, I found myself standing in the mud of the River Thames in central London, wearing blue rubber gloves and a pair of old tennis shoes. I was mudlarking—hunting the river for old treasures, which is the inspiration for my debut novel, The Lost Apothecary. Given such an adventure would be impossible right now, I hope my novel provides you an opportunity to escape back in time and embark on a story that begins with one woman’s discovery of a mysterious vial on the banks of the River Thames. The vial is connected to a string of unsolved murders two centuries ago and the female poisoner behind them—an apothecary who sells well-disguised poisons to other women seeking freedom from the men who have wronged them. The Lost Apothecary is very much a story about women controlling their own destinies. There are dark aspects to the story—like the burden of secrets and the destructive pursuit of vengeance—but it is also a story of hope and the way women can protect, honor, and free one another, even when separated by the barrier of time. While researching this book, I loved digging into historical documents and antiquated ephemera, particularly those relating to eighteenth-century London. Over the last few years, I’ve happily passed many an afternoon in the Rare Books room of the British Library, my head buried in fragile manuscripts from bygone eras. I’ve studied firsthand accounts of apothecaries, druggists, and poisoners. (I know enough to be dangerous, as they say.) So, although The Lost Apothecary is a work of fiction, I have done my best to research and craft a story that is true to history. As lockdowns continue and many of us turn to books to escape our present reality, I hope you feel swept away by the mysterious world of The Lost Apothecary and the complex female heroines at its heart. You will become familiar with the secret apothecary shop and the many vials lining the shelves—their contents, their preparations, their sinister uses—and peek into the apothecary’s register of names, discovering who stepped through her hidden door in pursuit of poison. And you will, of course, be alongside the apothecary when the unthinkable happens and her greatest secret is exposed. I invite you now to leave your own lockdown, if only in your imagination, and join me on the banks of the River Thames. Together, we can begin to unbury the secrets belonging to the lost apothecary. I only ask that you tread carefully—for the apothecary is a clever woman and a master of disguise. Cheers, Sarah Penner

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill

    An Apothecary shop that caters to your every need...whether it be helping with an ailment or kill your husband? Ummm yes please! Sign me up for a read that promises to be dark and twisted. This storyline alternates between 1791 and present day. I was gripped instantly as the story started to build. Flash back to the 1790's and a mere 13 year old girl pondering murder? Will the apothecary owner assist her with this? Nella has assisted many of women in her time, but a child this young? As this plan An Apothecary shop that caters to your every need...whether it be helping with an ailment or kill your husband? Ummm yes please! Sign me up for a read that promises to be dark and twisted. This storyline alternates between 1791 and present day. I was gripped instantly as the story started to build. Flash back to the 1790's and a mere 13 year old girl pondering murder? Will the apothecary owner assist her with this? Nella has assisted many of women in her time, but a child this young? As this plan fell into place and Nella and Eliza formed a friendship...the story burned very, very slowly and I eventually started to lose interest. Forward to modern day and we have Caroline who is dealing with her own "man" problems. After researching the apothecary of the past, her husband ends up having issues of his own...is Caroline to blame? As past and present clash together, it does tie in well...however it did not deliver the depth or suspense that I had anticipated. Perhaps I am the wrong audience for this book. I do read mainly thrillers and I was expecting more... I wanted more excitement- I mean we have a shop that fully supports assisting in "offing" men that have behaved very badly...there was so much potential here for ALOT of scandal. I expected more gothic vibes..witchy wonderfulness...but no...so this is probably a case of "it is me not you." So many have absolutely loved this book, so I suggest giving it a try!

  28. 5 out of 5

    MaryannC. Book Freak

    This was such an engrossing and fascinating read for me, encompassing the wonderful pastime of mudlarking coupled with a dual story line this had me gripped from page one till the very end. Caroline is a young woman anticipating the near day when she and her husband James will fly to London to make plans for their future and celebrate their 10th anniversary. But all the happy plans are crushed for Caroline when she discovers James has been having an affair. To now contemplate the future and escap This was such an engrossing and fascinating read for me, encompassing the wonderful pastime of mudlarking coupled with a dual story line this had me gripped from page one till the very end. Caroline is a young woman anticipating the near day when she and her husband James will fly to London to make plans for their future and celebrate their 10th anniversary. But all the happy plans are crushed for Caroline when she discovers James has been having an affair. To now contemplate the future and escape the pain Caroline travels onward alone to London where she happens upon a mudlarking group on the shores of The Thames( Mudlarking for those who may not know is a centuries old pastime of folks scouring the mud for old items of value, it was a means of survival for some adults and children to sell what they found in order to feed their families). Not really knowing whether she cares to involve herself in mucking through the water for items she finds a small glass vial that will change the course of her life and lead her to search for the origins and secrets the vial holds. In the alternate story line going back to the late 1700's, Nella is a woman who has chosen to live in secret as an apothecary to not only make her special healing tinctures but also as a means to kill men, men who have betrayed, hurt and deceived women. Through word of mouth Nella receives secret requests from women to conjure up poison remedies that will kill the boyfriends, husbands and lovers who all have caused them pain in way or another. Vowing never to hurt any women in the course of dispensing her poisonous tinctures Nella will receive a request that will put her lifelong vow to help women in danger as well as her own life. I have recently begun exploring the topic of mudlarking and long to know more about the fascinating historical objects that have been gleaned from the mud and waters through the years, so I was excited to read this when I first spotted it. This novel also peaked more of an interest for me in the poisoning cases during the Victorian era, leading me to seek out the books the author has mentioned in her notes. All in all this was an engrossing and totally fascinating read! Recommended. Thank you to Edelweiss and author Sarah Penner for a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    This is a disappointing read with implausible situations, melodramatic characters, and obvious contrivances. It often raises more questions than it answers. The emotions of the characters are unrealistic, so the characters themselves also seem unrealistic. Contradictions only add to the lack of believability. The drama in the story is heightened too artificially. First we have Nella, one of the historic protagonists. She's chronically depressed as well as chronically ill. On one hand, she's portr This is a disappointing read with implausible situations, melodramatic characters, and obvious contrivances. It often raises more questions than it answers. The emotions of the characters are unrealistic, so the characters themselves also seem unrealistic. Contradictions only add to the lack of believability. The drama in the story is heightened too artificially. First we have Nella, one of the historic protagonists. She's chronically depressed as well as chronically ill. On one hand, she's portrayed as a strong woman, an early feminist, fighting for memory and power in a world that allows women neither. But she's aggressively hobbled by her past, which doesn't fit with the woman she's become. Furthermore, while she's against believing in ghosts (which feels strange in the 18th century), she's not above believing that she's being punished by some sort of karma for her deeds. It doesn't add up. Through the whole thing you want her to really just pull herself together. Then we have Eliza, who is actually the best character of the bunch. However, she starts her period, and NOBODY TELLS HER WHAT IT IS even though she bleeds on a cushion after having left her home and own mother only a short while in the past. She'd either know because she grew up on a farm or her first employer would have told her. She also, in the 18th century DOESN'T KNOW ANYONE WHO HAS DIED. Literally incredible. Nella's wealthy client starts off by threatening her then risks her life to protect her, then acts worried that she'll be found out. These two sides of her personality do not jibe. Then we have the present-day protagonist, whatever her name is. She is too Pollyanna ("I came to London because I was hurt by someone else's secrets, now I was the one hiding things" *gasp*). She's so overwrought about trespassing into a door that nobody's opened for 200 years without clear reason ("I walked out of Bear Alley aware that I'd just committed a crime for the very first time in my life" *gasp*). She continues talking to her husband after he severely deceives her twice. She thinks Gaynor is her friend too soon, when actually she's only just used her services. Finally, the husband shows up after a trans-Atlantic flight smelling like "pine and lemon." No way. Nobody smells like that after being through airports and on planes. He tries to call 911 in the UK and pretends he doesn't know not to drink essential oils, even though he's described as "intelligent."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Madison Warner Fairbanks

    The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner Contemporary and historical women’s fiction. Alternating chapters from 1791 and present day. 1791 Eliza, a twelve year servant tasked with killing her employers husband with a poison from the hidden apothecary. 1791 Nella, an aging and sick spinster has been disbursing poisons to women since she lost her own child in death. Present day Caroline, a woman traveling alone in London after finding out her husband has had an affair. She finds an intriguing glass vial The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner Contemporary and historical women’s fiction. Alternating chapters from 1791 and present day. 1791 Eliza, a twelve year servant tasked with killing her employers husband with a poison from the hidden apothecary. 1791 Nella, an aging and sick spinster has been disbursing poisons to women since she lost her own child in death. Present day Caroline, a woman traveling alone in London after finding out her husband has had an affair. She finds an intriguing glass vial when joining a mudlarking tour on a whim. So begins her search for a lost apothecary. A journal of adventure and self discovery. Intriguing and easy to read. I found both time frames fascinating and even a bit suspenseful. I also think Caroline found things a little too easy but no one would find hundreds of hours of research fun to read about so it made sense for the story. Loved the ending and resolution. Excerpt: “My eyes began to sting as I considered the odds of finding this object in the riverbed: a historical artifact, probably once belonging to a person of little significance, someone whose name wasn’t recorded in a textbook, but whose life was fascinating all the same. This was precisely what I found so enchanting about history: centuries might separate me from whoever last held the vial, but we shared in the exact sensation of its cool glass between our fingers. It felt as though the universe, in her strange and nonsensical way, meant to reach out to me, to remind me of the enthusiasm I once had for the trifling bits of bygone eras, if only I could look beneath the dirt that had accumulated over time.” Excerpt from The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.

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