04 February 2013

The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen, Book review

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
ISBN-13: 978-0764204807


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.

My thoughts:

I have reviewed in the past other novels by Julie Klassen and could not pass the opportunity to read 'The Apothecary's Daughter'. The title in itself brought to my imagination all sorts of plots and I did not hesitate to pick up a copy at the library to satisfy my curiosity.
At 653 pages (the large print being the only copy available, there is only 416 pages in the original version) it made for a heavy tome to carry around (even if I do have a large tote!). 

As always, Julie Klassen's impeccable research brings her readers a formidable period background for her plot. Anyone familiar with her writing knows it is unequal particularly when writers often take liberties and produce light and easy novels by the dozen. 

Being fond of history, 18th and 19th Century English periods foremost, I delighted in uncovering the numerous chapters heading quotes from well known sources as Mrs. Beeton's Household Almanac, Culpeper's Complete Herbal and so on...

That said, but for the impressive herbal lore, medical terminology, the lively canal traffic near Bedsley Priors and its village's life to name only a few, this reading was soporific, the characters prosaic and the multi layered plot lacking stimulus. 
The overall effect seems singular considering the preferred genre of Ms. Klassen, that of Regency and Christian literature. Some of its context does not meet the requirements of a Christian novel and as such is better suited to older teens and adults readers.

Lilly Haswell seems at times shallow despite obvious good intentions and a brilliant mind, with her suitors' titillating towards apathy even considering the time period. 
Lacking perhaps the wit of a good Jane Austen's novel, 'The Apothecary's Daughter' never the less shows the struggles 19th Century women experienced outside of the household scope, both in society and in the working world. 

Finally, Lilly's romantic entanglements led me to imagine a different climax altogether as I clearly misunderstood the author's intentions from the onset.
I'll counsel you only to read the novel for yourself and form an opinion!

4 Stars.

About the Author:

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her novels have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. Her book, The Silent Governess, was also a finalist in the Minnesota Book Awards, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards, and Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois.
Visit her website (HERE).

Note to Readers: Unless stated otherwise reviews are not requested by Publisher, PR's or Author and reflects ONLY my opinion!


  1. I like to rate the books I read. 4 stars is very good! I would enjoy it, I know!

    1. Now there's where I am often having diffculties Diane!
      I never 'rated' (more like like/dislike) until I started reviewing.
      I am trying to consider the extensive research and wish to respect the time and effort in writing by any author. They say opinions and colours are not to be argued upon and whom am I to criticize?!
      I like to put myself in the writer's shoes when I write the review and remember to be kind whilst I share my thoughts (and that's all it is as I am no expert!)
      Blessings Dear Lavender Dreamer,

  2. Thank you Mystica! Had it been more of a Romance I might have given it 5 stars but the emotions were just not there. It merits however serious applauds for her historical research!

  3. Sounds like something I would enjoy, I have been given a lot of books lately but as some have come from my daughter she has given me some I already read so I will pass them on and I can always have more.

  4. One cannot have too many books Merle! Enjoy!

  5. This sounds like a great story, thanks for reviewing it so comprehensively! I don't have a book on the go at the moment and a I really need to start one.

    Gillian x

    1. I cannot believe I am saying this but the Ebook version might just be the ticket if you are truly on the go (with so many pages, it might be wise!).
      From the historical point of view, one of the best!
      All the best,


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