INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Named Most Anticipated of 2021 by Newsweek, Good Housekeeping, Hello! magazine, Oprah.com, Bustle, Popsugar, Betches, Sweet July, and GoodReads!
March 2021 Indie Next Pick and #1 LibraryReads Pick
“A bold, edgy, accomplished debut!” —Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network
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.
Don’t miss THE LONDON SÉANCE SOCIETY! Sarah’s next spellbinding book about truth, illusion and the grave risks women will take to avenge the ones they love.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
As the characters in this brilliant historical drama know all too well, society has rarely allowed women to live as they please—so they sometimes have to take matters into their own hands. After experiencing betrayal and heartbreak, Nella turns her London apothecary business toward a darker purpose: secretly concocting poisons to help women free themselves from the vile, abusive men who torment them. Her business booms until a 12-year-old girl walks into Nella’s shop and threatens to send the whole enterprise crashing down. Sarah Penner’s smart novel jumps back and forth in time between the 1790s and now, when a historian named Caroline is gripped by Nella’s dramatic story just like we are. With its resonant themes of guilt, revenge, friendship, and hope, The Lost Apothecary is hard to put down and even harder to stop thinking about.
In Penner's faltering debut, a contemporary American woman uncovers a clue to a series of unsolved murders in 18th-century London. After Caroline Parcewell learns her husband, James, is having an affair, she flies alone from Ohio to London on what was meant to be their anniversary trip. There, she finds a glass vial in the Thames. Her research on the bear etched on the bottle turns up newspaper articles about the suicide of a woman known as the London "Apothecary Killer" in 1791, and leads her to the site of the woman's shop. Penner switches from Caroline's sleuthing to the story of the apothecary, Nella Clavinger, who gave poison to women to use on men who wronged them in various ways. Back in the present, Caroline contends with James showing up and getting accidentally poisoned after trying to win her back. Penner's story starts strong but peters out as the engaging premise gets muddled in convenient plot turns, though the author does a good job of making two disparate stories into eventual foils for one another. This has a few things going for it, but in the end it fails to cast a spell.
It was okay.
Easy read and interesting enough, but a little too simple.
Interesting concept, but I can’t even finish this—not worth my time. The writing style is disjointed, no character development, couldn’t find anyone to care enough about to continue. Reads like an historical romance novel for those waiting for a better book to come along.
Loved this! Loved the layers of stories, lessons and history. I think all women can relate at some point in their lives to Caroline’s challenge. Was glad to read about someone who did something about it instead of miring in her misery