January 11, 2012

The Medicinal Properties of Love • The Apothecary's Daughter

The Apothecary's Daughter book cover
The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: January 1, 2009
Source/Format: Bought || Kindle e-book

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.

I'm one of those people who stalks the Kindle store (on occasion) to check out the free books available. There are usually some really good deals or intriguing stories to be had in there, and when I saw The Apothecary's Daughter, I immediately downloaded it because (a) it's historical fiction, (b) it's about a teenager and (c) apothecaries are cool.

This was a particularly nice and easy read for me. While I enjoyed the story and did get partially invested in the main character, it wasn't a novel that really stood out to me. It was perfect for something to pass the time while I was traveling from Ohio to New Jersey.

In-Depth Review

The Characters

One of the book's strongest points is Lilly. Her intelligence, ambition, loyalty to her family and friends, and dedication to doing the right thing was admirable. It was easy to like Lilly because she was not-so-typical; apart from the ordinary homemaking skills and watching over her little brother, Lilly was also razor sharp smart and imaginative and wanted more for herself and for everyone she loved. Her protectiveness over her brother and her longing for adventure and something different especially endeared her to me.

There is a great cast of characters in the novel, who we learn about all in relation to Lilly and her opinions of them. This includes Mary (Lilly's best friend), Charles Haswell (her father and an apothecary), Charlie (her little brother), Francis (Lilly's father's apprentice), Maude Mimpurse (Mary's mother), Dr. Graves (a suitor and doctor), and Mr. Shuttleworth (a rival apothecary), to name a few that stood out to me.

The Story

I'm obviously a fan of stories that chronicle personal growth in a character that I can become invested in or one that I like - and this story fits the bill. Lilly experiences many things in her life, both good and bad, and these things obviously affect her outlook. While it seems very confusing to her initially, Lilly manages to pull through in the end and have a firmer grasp of what she really wants in life.

I also can appreciate the the romance was not the main focus of the story, though it was certainly a part of the plot. Instead, the story is comprised a balanced blend of romance, family, friendship and growing up.

The Writing Style

I believe, honestly, that the story would have been a typical blend of historical YA, were it not for the extra tidbits and facts included. These came from a variety of sources, but I thought they were usually appropriate, interesting and allowed better insight into the world that Lilly lives in.

Personally, I say you should...

... read this novel if you want to read light historical YA fare or if you need a quick, easy read for distraction. I did like it, and it did entertain me the whole time I was reading; however, it is not a particularly remarkable book that stands out from the rest.


  1. Like Jana, I've been wondering about this one too. It's been on my Nook for almost a year now, but I never got around to reading it. Like you, I snagged it because it was a free book. Then, and I don't recall where I heard about this book, but someone rambled on about the romance in the book, so I was under the impression I had downloaded some mushy romance novel (not my type of book at all). I'd been considering taking it off my Nook, but after stumbling upon your review, I'm deciding against it!

  2. I had been wondering about this one, so I'm glad I read your review. I've got SO many books to read right now, that reading a nothing-special kind of book is not something I have time for! Haha.

    (By the way, I know you'll love Under the Never Sky! I'm very excited to see what you think!)


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