Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Lilly Haswell, the daughter of a small village apothecary, yearns for a life filled with love and adventure that will take her away from her hometown of Bedsley Priors. She spends her days assisting in her father’s apothecary shop with his apprentice, Francis Baylor, and she has an excellent talent for remembering and preparing remedies. Lilly’s mother left her family three years ago without a word, and Lilly still looks for her return. When Lilly’s fashionable and wealthy relations offer her an extended stay in London, complete with the promise of tutors, gowns, and balls, Lilly concedes even though she will terribly miss her father and her handicapped brother, Charlie. Lilly travels to London with the aspirations to further her education, experience adventures, make new acquaintances, and perhaps, find some clues about her mother’s disappearance.
The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen is a charming and sweet Regency tale that will fascinate readers with its historical facts and details about the art of being an apothecary. I particularly enjoyed learning about the many remedies and cures used back in the nineteenth century. In addition, in this novel Ms. Klassen subtly employs themes of Christianity and faith. She never sermonizes or moralizes, she merely stresses the importance of turning your problems and anxieties over to God and that “with God all things are possible.”
In this novel Ms. Klassen leaves her audience in suspense and befuddlement about which man will be the one to win Lilly’s heart until the very end of the novel. So if you like books were the romance is unpredictable and unexpected, you will like this aspect of the novel greatly. For myself, surprisingly I found it a little disappointing and unsatisfying. Lilly has three suitors in this novel and throughout the majority of it she is undecided about which one she is in love with. Because of this, Lilly sometimes seemed to be a little fickle and inconstant. In addition, with three different male characters the book it didn’t seem to have a true hero or main male character. I was a little disappointed in how my favorite suitor was abruptly abandoned and how we were left with no glimpse of his future.
Is this book Austenesque? Not really, although this book takes place in the same Regency time period of many of Jane Austen’s novels there aren’t a lot of similarities between Ms. Klassen’s and Ms. Austen’s writing, characters, and style.
Is this book Historical Christian Fiction? Yes, although I felt its inspirational and religious elements to be very light and not as meaningful as I expected. However, this book would be great for readers who don’t really care much for the mention of God and faith in their historical fiction.
Overall, The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen was an engaging novel that I found to be a very pleasant read. I look forward to reading other works by Julie Klassen as I greatly enjoyed the articulate and accurate historical backdrop she gave her story. If you are interested in historical fiction, the Regency Era, or apothecaries than I suggest you give this book a try.