Or, My Thoughts On Julie Klassen’s Novel
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.
There are so many great things about The Apothecary’s Daughter. The historical details are amazing. I felt immersed in the world Klassen created. Whether we were in a London sitting room or Haswell’s apothecary shop in Bedsley Priors I felt like I was there. Her characters, too, are each distinct and layered human beings that really shine.
The only part that made me roll my eyes is that by the 50% mark, every eligible young man Lilly had ever met was crazy in love with her. Not one, but two bachelors from her London season, her father’s former apprentice, the village’s new apothecary, even the local lord’s son. Do you mean to tell me there’s not one man Lilly knows who thinks she’s pretentious or boring?
This is where Lilly slipped into Mary Sue territory. Even the people she wronged by abandoning, first her friends and family in Bedsley Priors, and then her aunt and uncle in London, forgive her immediately and completely. No one is ever annoyed with Lilly. Which I find hard to believe.
Even her flaws aren’t really flaws. She has a photographic memory. Her mother ran away when she was a small child. Both situations only make Lilly a more sympathetic character.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys richly detailed historical romances, but with a warning that the heroine might get on your nerves with her sparkling perfection.
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