”The apothecary was a friend to all of us women, the brewer of our secret: the men are dead because of us.
Only, it did not happen as I intend’d.
It was not her fault, the apothecary. It was not even mine.
I lay blame unto my husband, and his thirst for that which was not meant for him.”
“The Lost Apothecary” is one of those books that is hard to describe. I mean the overall story is pretty simple: We have a pharmacy in 1791 London and we have a woman that helps other women to get rid of their men. The apothecary. What was super intriguing about this book was the way she went about it. Every poison she gives away is only meant for men and there are so many different reasons why the women that come to her want to poison them. I’m not gonna lie, the idea of killing your husband because he’s unfaithful felt truly wrong and even though I understood where those women were coming from I was still revolted by the idea of murder.
I mean if we’d poison every man who ever cheated on his wife, had an affair with a married woman or lusted after someone he shouldn’t lust after, well, I guess we’d have to get rid of at least 50% of our male population. XD (Mind you, women can also be unfaithful and do all of those things. ;-P) Of course to live as a woman in 1791 was way different than to live as a woman now, some of the troubles never seem to change though, no matter in which time you live.
”Why did we suffer to keep secrets? Merely to protect ourselves, or to protect others? The apothecary was long gone, dead for more than two hundred years. There was no reason for me to stand guard over her.”
Which brings me right to the second time line we have in this book. It’s modern day London and the story revolves around Caroline who found out that her husband has an affair. To add insult to injury he even had it while they were trying to go for a baby. Of course Caroline doesn’t want him around her anymore and needs time to think which results in her going on their anniversary trip to London on her own. She leaves her husband behind and goes “mudlarking” with a tourist group and stumbles upon one of the apothecary’s vials in the mud of the Thames. And this is the moment where the two storylines connect. 😉
”For many of these women,” Nella whispered, “this may be the only place their names are recorded. The only place they will be remembered. It is a promise I made to my mother, to preserve the existence of these women whose names would otherwise be erased from history. The world is not kind to us … There are few places for a woman to leave an indelible mark.”
On the one hand we have the story of Nella – the apothecary – and Eliza a young girl that was sent to get a poison for her mistress’s husband and on the other hand we have Caroline who is trying to find out where the vial originated while figuring out what she’s going to do now that she knows the truth about her husband’s infidelity. Both women have their own struggles to deal with and I was very intrigued by the concept of this book. I loved that Nella and Caroline had totally different lives yet they were connected somehow. What made this book really interesting was the moral dilemma I faced while I read it. I understood Nella and the pain she went through. I got why she decided to help all those women by selling them poison, I pulled for her and didn’t want her to be exposed, yet at the same time I couldn’t condone what she did. And I think to some degree not even Nella could stomach the truth of what she did to those men.
”The discomfort in my joints had crawled through my body for years; it had grown so severe, I lived not a waking hour without pain. Every poison I dispensed brought a new wave of it upon me; some evenings, my fingers were so distended and stiff, I felt sure the skin would split open and expose what lay underneath.”
I don’t want to go into too much detail because this book had me really glued to the pages and I don’t want to spoil anything. I went into it mostly blind when I borrowed it from my library and only knew the basics of the plotline because one of my favourite BookTubers spoke about it in one of her wrap ups. XD Also can we briefly acknowledge how gorgeous the cover of this book is? It immediately drew me in and whenever I picked up the book I had to look at it! =)
”The best apothecary was one who knows intimately the despair felt by her patient, whether in body or heart. And though I could not relate to this woman’s place in society – for there were no gatehouses or footmen to be seen in Black Alley – I knew, firsthand, her inner turmoil. Heartache is shared by all, and favors no rank.”
All told I really enjoyed “The Lost Apothecary” and the fact I managed to finish it, even though I was in one of the biggest reading slumps I ever experienced while reading it, should already tell you enough. The idea of the story might sound simple but the interesting writing style and the characters kept me engaged until the very end. I really wanted to know how the story ends and I guess when it comes to books you can’t ask for more than that. 😉