Audiobook, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner @sl_penner @lornaebennett @LaurenanthonyA @HarlequinAudio

It’s 1791 London and a mysterious woman named Nella operates her secret business in the hidden section of her mother’s former apothecary shop where she learned the healing natures of herbs and plants. Her mother is gone and after Nella suffered a betrayal at the hands of a cheating lover, she shifts those skills to concoct potions that will be the undoing of men like him. She’s an underground secret that only women know about and protect her identity. When she allows a young girl who expresses an interest in learning more about her craft to help her, it sets up a series of events that spans forward into the future. Enter Caroline Parcewell in the present day whose marriage is falling apart and she’s in London on what was supposed to be a tenth anniversary celebration. She’s alone and when she finds a vial on the shores of the Thames, it has historic and life changing implications.

This is a tale of two shifting timelines, which I like when it’s done well as it is here. I thought I’d be more invested in Caroline’s story but it was Nella’s that captured most of my attention. She’s a complicated character living in an era where women’s fates were in the hands of men, often those behaving badly. On the surface, Nella’s answer might seem a dark form of justice but it takes a toll on her soul. When Caroline finds that vial, she sets off to research its history and origin, filling a hole in her own soul she didn’t even recognize was there. She has a degree in history but toils away at home in Cincinnati working as a glorified bookkeeper in her family’s business. This mission reawakens her in a way that provides clarity in her own life.

I’m not sure I would have ever selected this to read if not for my book club, which is another endorsement for participating in diverse reading groups where you can broaden your scope. I had a tough time pausing this story, especially because of the timeline transitions. How that vial ended up on the shores of the Thames two hundred years later is the heart of the story and the journey getting there was full of intrigue, suspense and excitement. I listened to the story and separate narrators were used for Nella, Caroline and young Eliza, which really added flavor to the performance. I especially loved Nella’s voice as she captured every emotion that character embodied. It was masterful and contributed to a wonderful listening experience of a really good story.

Book Info

  • Release Date: March 2, 2021
  • Narrators: Lorna Bennett, Lauren Anthony & Lauren Irwin
  • Audio Length: 10 hours, 18 minutes
  • Publisher: Harlequin Audio


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34 thoughts on “The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner @sl_penner @lornaebennett @LaurenanthonyA @HarlequinAudio”

  1. Wonderful! I’m so glad you enjoyed this one too, Jonetta. It was one of my favourites for all the reasons you stated. Nella was at the heart of the story for me too, and was left wanting more.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent review, Jonetta. It was the cover that grabbed me first for this one, and most of my GR friends have enjoyed it. I’m glad it turned out good for you too. Sometimes I think diverse reading is the only thing that keeps me going. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. At first I thought she had died, but then, in that final chapter, it was revealed what happened, which I was happy to find out, as I really liked Nella and Eliza.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review, Jonetta! For some reason, I always find the past more interesting than the present in these dual timelines stories. Maybe, it’s because the past tends to form the main story, whereas the role of the present character is to discover the past (and then the author weaves in a story around her for good measure)? Anyway, this sounds like a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was my Book of the Month pick last month but I haven’t read it yet. I’m thinking now that I may wait for the audio version to be available at my library though after reading your review. It sounds like that’s the perfect way to experience such a special story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful review Jo. I really enjoyed the audiobook as well, the narrators did a great job. I think this is one dual timeline story where I liked both of them equally.

    Liked by 1 person

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