Lillian Haswell, brilliant daughter of the local apothecary, yearns for more adventure and experience than life in her father's shop and their small village provides. She also longs to know the truth behind her mother's disappearance, which villagers whisper about but her father refuses to discuss.
Opportunity comes when a distant aunt offers to educate her as a lady in London. Exposed to fashionable society and romance-as well as clues about her mother-Lilly is torn when she is summoned back to her ailing father's bedside. Women are forbidden to work as apothecaries, so to save the family legacy, Lilly will have to make it appear as if her father is still making all the diagnoses and decisions. But the suspicious eyes of a scholarly physician and a competing apothecary are upon her. As they vie for village prominence, three men also vie for Lilly's heart.
When a writer has enjoyed a successful debut novel, there is always the danger that the next story can't live up to it's predecessor. This is certainly not the case with The Apothecary's Daughter, another excellent read from Julie Klassen. This period drama shines with exceptional prose, elegant characters and all the awkward social constraints that marked the Regency period. With fascinating detail of apothecary tradition and the tension with the medical profession, Julie's research is diverse and comprehensive. I enjoyed Julie's ability to disguise which man would win Lilly's heart until the final chapters, a refreshing change to many an historical romance. Aside from a slow patch towards the end of the novel (maybe I simply anxious to know the ending!), Julie's novel shines and has become my favourite of her two novels ~ I'm looking forward to many more.
Friday, 20 February 2009