FICTION

The Lost Apothecary

Park Row: Harlequin. Mar. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9780778311010. $27.99. F
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DEBUT After finding out her husband has been having an affair, Caroline Parcewell leaves alone for London on what was supposed to be their 10th-anniversary trip. While on a mudlarking tour along the banks of the Thames, she finds a small glass vial with an imprint of a bear. Believing the vial to be quite old, Caroline sets off for the British Library to see if she can discover any clues to its history. As she digs deeper, readers are pulled into an intriguing parallel story. In 1791, Nella’s apothecary shop is hidden in a back alley behind a false wall. Some of the remedies Nella sells happen to be poisons, for women who wish to rid themselves of abusive men in their lives. When one of Nella’s poisons results in the death of a lord, the authorities begin seeking the apothecary responsible. Nella must flee or risk the exposure of her other clients.
VERDICT Readers who enjoy parallel historical/contemporary narratives about women’s lives, such as Claire McMillan’s The Necklace or Liz Trenow’s The Forgotten Seamstress, will enjoy the historical details and mystery in this engrossing tale.

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