Last spring, I read Julie Klassen’s first novel, Lady of Milkweed Manor. Having just finished reading all of Jane Austen’s novels, I enjoyed revisiting Regency period England. If you haven’t read Lady of Milkweed Manor, I recommend it. (You can read Jennifer’s review of this book HERE.) In her second novel, The Apothecary’s Daughter, Julie Klassen returns to this time period with new characters, and I am pleased to say that I enjoyed her second novel as much as the first.
Lilly Haswell is an intelligent young woman coming of age in Bedsley Priors, a small village in rural England. After her mother abandons the family, Lilly lives with her father and her mentally impaired brother, and she spends her days helping her father run his apothecary shop. Although Lilly’s life is far removed from ours, her dreams, those of a teen-aged girl in a small town, aren’t too different from what you would expect today. When an estranged aunt and uncle offer Lilly the opportunity to move to London for an education and a social life, Lilly jumps at the chance to explore the world and to look for her mother.
After some time, Lilly learns that her father is ill, and she returns to Bedsley Priors. Although it is illegal for a woman to do so, Lilly takes over the shop while dealing with the realization that her opportunities in London are diminishing in her absence. Lilly must decide what is most important and where to look for contentment.
As usual, I enjoyed the historical nature of this story. Reading about the role of an apothecary in the daily lives of the people as well as a bright young woman having to hide her intelligence and successful business skills was fascinating. Additionally, I was truly surprised by several aspects of the ending. During the course of the novel, several potential suitors emerge. Not only did I spend the majority of the book wondering who Lilly would choose, I couldn’t decide who I wanted her to choose! Along with other surprises, this held my interest and made it quite difficult to put the book down before I finished the story.
If you enjoy historical fiction, particularly stories set in Jane Austen’s England, I highly recommend that you find a copy of The Apothecary’s Daughter.
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Lauren is a wife, a mother of two, and an avid reader. She blogs at Baseballs and Bows.