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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Apothecary's Daughter
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420 of 431 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
In the village of Bedsley Priors, Lillian Haswell is known by all as the apothecary's daughter; intelligent and dutiful; she assists her father in nearly every aspect of his profession. From growing herbs to prescribing certain remedies, to running errands for him. Mr. Haswell is full of regret that his son Charlie cannot follow in his footsteps, but young Charlie is a bit slow. Instead he must rely on his daughter. While Lilly has a knack of remembering everything and is gifted in the field of medicine, she dreams of traveling, seeing the world- but most of all, finding her mother. Years prior Mrs. Haswell left her husband and children, promising to return, however she never did. So when Lilly's aunt and uncle invite her to stay in London with them, she believes that her dreams are becoming a reality. Nearly two years pass when she is called home. She finds her home in disarray, her father ill, her brother working elsewhere and their own little shop closed. Despite her yearning to go back to London, Lilly does her duty and works diligently to bring their apothecary's shop back to it's former glory. What follows, I never would have guess, but I'll not spoil it for you.
After reading Klassen's former novel, "Lady of Milkweed Manor" I was eagerly awaiting her next work and was not left disappointed. While I still prefer "Lady of Milkweed Manor," "The Apothecary's Daughter" claimed my attention from morning to late afternoon, until I finished it. Lilly was an engaging heroine; bright and intelligent. The only disappointment that I felt was that her father hadn't realized what a jewel he had for a daughter until almost the end. Of course one must keep in mind that this story is based in the Regency Era and that the medical profession was forbidden to women. I was completely surprised by the author's choice in who Lilly ended up with. I was certain it would be once character and it turned out to be someone completely different. Another shock was the secrets behind Mrs. Haswell's disappearance and Mr. Haswell's own past. I promise you, like Klassen's other book, you won't finish this story without tears.
[...]
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87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed Klassen's previous title, 'The Lady of Milkweed Manor', so I was eager to read her next title. The Apothecary's Daughter is an amazing book. The author's attention to even the minutest historical detail is fantastic.
Julie Klassen's characters are so detailed and fleshed out that you feel you actually know these people. You want to be involved with their lives. Her books are so deep, not like other Christian Fiction. Some of those are just fluff with scriptures thrown in. This author goes deep into the heart of things.
I am eagerly looking forward to her next book and I've only just finished this one. Her books are so good that you can't wait to finish but hate to finish.
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115 of 126 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2010
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Lilly Haswell lives with her apothecary father and brother in the small town of Bedsley Priors. Lilly's mother left the family three years ago, leaving Lilly to care for her family. Although she has an excellent memory and a talent for preparing medicines, Lilly dreams of leaving her small town and visiting the places that she and her mother used to point out on a map. Her chance to see the larger world comes when her aunt and uncle invite her to live with them in London. Lilly must ultimately make a chance--to live a life of ease in London or return to her father, brother and the apothecary shop.

Pros: the author has clearly done a lot of research, and her descriptions of Regency-era medical preparations are fascinating (if nauseating). All of the characters, especially Lilly, her brother and her best friend, are well drawn and interesting. Ms. Klassen never preaches, but works Christian themes subtly and appropriately into the story.

Cons: the plot is long, there are many characters, and there are long stretches where nothing much happens. The book would have been benefited from more ruthless editing, pruning the book to the only the most important themes and characters. Several readers have compared author Klassen to Jane Austen, and this book can be compared to Austen's lesser works (such as "Mansfield Park"). But Klassen lacks the sense of humor that permeates Jane Austen's writing, to the author's detriment.

The bottom line: this is a serviceable, but not wonderful, Regency romance. Considering that I obtained the free Kindle version, I certainly got my money's worth.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
i couldn't stop reading this book. it was so rich and delightful in every aspect. the plot was so realistic, so beautifully developed and so terribly unpredictable! there are mysteries of the past and hardships of the present and decisions to be reached sooner or later. the christian theme is powerfully, although subtly introduced in the most critical, most human moments of the plot.
it also contains a lot of information on the era, which is very pleasantly and easily read along with the story.
what touched me deeply (except for the romance, of course) was that every time a miracle was needed (which was quite often) God certainly provided one, every time, although a different one than axpected.
i also loved the characters, the good along with the bad, the weak along with the righteous, because i felt like i really got to know them.
i loved the author's first book, and although i thought it would be very difficult for her to surpass it, i have to say this may be even better.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
First, I am not going to recount the plot...that's what the book description is for. I like to just read people's opinions.

I normally would not pick up a book from a Christian Publishing House. I usually read regular historical fiction, usually those listed as historical romance, but I do read other general historical fiction, especially those set in the regency period. And I will admit that the regencies I usually read are a bit racy, though I don't mind those thin little regencies (i believe they are often called "sweet" regencies because they do not contain any sexual situations). Lately, though, I have been reading books by James Rollins, Matthew Reilly and the lot, which I believe are considered technothrillers, though I much prefer the ones that have an archaeology aspect.

So it was really by chance that I read this novel; my mom gave me kindle for my birthday, and we share one account so that we can both read books the other has downloaded. I believe that she got this one for free. And again, I probably would not have read this book had I known that it was by a Christian publisher, as I normally don't care to be "preached at."

I was wrong. This book is excellent. There is absolutely nothing preachy about it. In fact, I would say the author mentioned religion less than I would expect a real person of the period would have - everyone was religious back then...it was so fully ingrained in society.

This ending had me comparing it to the Witch of Blackbird Pond. I'm not quite sure why. I was in tears for a great deal of the last few chapters. The heroine was strong, but not so strong that she would be an anachronism of the times (that always bothers me). Also, I am a pharmacy technician, so it was interesting to learn how pharmacists evolved, and how our modern ideas of medicine have changed so much...I also liked how the author showed, for instance, how bloodletting was common at the time, and didn't try to have a character disagree with the theory. Often in historical novels you find characters who disagree with such things, even though it would have been very uncommon to go against the ways of the times.

Now I'm going to see how expensive the Witch of Blackbird Pond is on the kindle :) Hopefully it is old enough to be public domain, though I doubt it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2010
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
i downloaded this book because it was free andi was trying my new kindle out. What a terrific surprise to get so caught up in this well written book. I am getting this authors other two books even though i will be paying for them....should be well worth themoney if they are eve n half as well written.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2010
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I'll admit a certain fascination for romance novels. At 40+ I don't really care for the ones that have every graphic detail of the physical relationship outlined. This was a great read, wonderful characters and well written. I had the good fortune of a snow day and did not leave my couch until I finished this book. I am grateful to Kindle, the Publishers and the Author for their willingness to offer a book for free. I will look forward to the next book this Author writes AND I will be willing to pay for it! Ms. Klassen did a great job of providing detail without being boring and quickly investing me as a reader, in the characters and the plot. Well done.
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46 of 60 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 8, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I can see why this was free for the Kindle. This is one of the worst books I've read in awhile. The main character, whose name I've forgotten already, was mind-numbingly boring. At the beginning of the story, she seemed like she might grow into an interesting character. She worked at an apothecary shop with her father, but wanted more out of life. She gets that chance when her aunt and uncle invite her to come to London. Unfortunately, the reader doesn't get to experience any of the adventure and excitement she might have had at going to London because it skips a year. You don't even get to read about her journey there or first impressions.

She isn't there much longer before she has to go back home due to a cryptic note about her father. She does meet an incredibly boring and cowardly guy named Dr. Graves while in London who eventually follows her back. At one point in the story, he shaves his mustache off, and she is described to have looked at his recently shaved upper lip with "maternal affection". WHAT?! How can you look at somebody's upper lip maternally?? The writing was horrible, and the editing was worse. One time, "fashion" was actually spelled "fash,,,1on". How can an editor even make that big of a mistake??

The rest of the "story" is dragged down by her doing apothecary business, taking care of her sick friend, sick father, and mentally disabled brother. I found myself rolling my eyes every time her brother and father popped up to interrupt the story and slow it down even more. Well, that was when I thought there WAS a story. How silly of me. Whenever a potential plot came up, it was quickly squashed into nothing.

As for the ending, (SPOILERS AHEAD) you find out that the whole thing with her mother comes to nothing. This wasn't very surprising since, like I said earlier, every possible plot line came to nothing. The story with her mother was no different. She conveniently died "with her secrets", so you never find out what all that Rosa Wells stuff was about or anything else. The main character also realizes that it was stupid to have wanted more out of life and to yearn for adventure, so she settles down in an apothecary shop in the small town she grew up in, which she repeatedly said she didn't want to do throughout the whole book, with her boring childhood friend as a husband. So, basically, what little fight and sense of adventure she had was killed off, and she settled for less. So, Beware Women. Do not seek out adventure and fun or want more out of life because all that awaits you is disappointment, shame, and failure. Smother those feelings, and remember your place... at home with your husband doing something you never wanted to do.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
Five stars for the Christian regency fiction title of The Apothecary's Daughter.

Lilly Haswell is the bright and adventurous daughter of the village apothecary. She lives with her father and slow-witted brother. Lilly helps her father in his shop, making pills, growing herbs in the garden, making house calls and prescribing remedies. Her mother ran off and Lilly awaits for her return, wanting to be with her in the fun and excitement she figured her mom was having.

When her maternal uncle and aunt visit and invite her to their London house, she is happy to accept. But after two years, she believes herself to be without real prospects - for a husband - especially when she finds out unpleasant news about her mother. An anonymous note lets her know that her father's health has declined and she must return home to restore the shop and her family, amidst having a rival apothecary in town, learning family secrets, and dealing with new medical laws that are not in her favor.

Klassen's research was evident in this story with all the historical detail she included. It was a story that flowed gracefully with enough drama, enough romance, enough history to keep me guessing, to keep me anticipating the next turn of events. I did not expect the end, although I was not disappointed by it. It felt like a realistic story, a realistic ending, like it really could have happened. I also thought it was a nice touch to have apothecary-related quotes at the beginning of each chapter. It added to the "ambiance" of the story. Highly recommended!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
There is nothing I like better in this world than a well written historical novel set in England, and The Apothecary's Daughter was a wonderful treat. Scene one and the drama drew me in like an anglophile to a free trip to England. What fascinating details on the world of apothocary's in this time period. Lots of tension, unexpected twists and turns, and a perfect heroine--not passive, not a domineering wench, just right, sensible, strong minded, and a intriguing thread of romance weaved in throughout the story made this a delightful book I'll read again.
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