Friday 56, October 7, 2022: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Welcome to Friday 56! Hosted by Freda’s Voice, you turn to page 56 or 56% in any book or reading device and pick a sentence that grabs you.

For a moment, I considered the idea of throwing in the towel; maybe it was time to find a sandwich and plan a real itinerary.

The moment this thought crossed my mind, I shook my head. That sounded exactly like something James would say. As rain continued to batter the glass windows of the library, I willed myself to ignore this voice of reason–the same one that had told me to rip up my Cambridge application and encouraged me to take a job at the family farm. Instead, I asked myself what the old Caroline would do–the Caroline of a decade ago, the zealous student not yet dazzled by a diamond on her finger.”

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

By page 56 of the book we have been introduced to the 2 main characters of the story, Nella and Caroline.

Nella is the owner of a hidden, secret apothecary shop in 1791, which dispenses poisons. Nella only sells to women, often times to dispatch the misbehaving men in their lives. We don’t know too much else about Nella at the moment, other than she used to have a reputable Apothecary (once owned by her late mother), but after a betrayal at the hands of a man (we don’t really know the details of this betrayal yet), she turned to the dark side of potions, elixirs and herbs.

Caroline’s story takes place in “present day” England. An American history major, Caroline has spent the past 10 years preparing to be the dutiful mother. She set aside her dream of going to Cambridge to pursue a higher level education in history, when she accepted the marriage proposal of her then boyfriend (now husband) James. Unable to find a job with merely a bachelors degree in history, Caroline settled into a cozy / stable job at her parent’s farm, where she remained for the last decade. On the other hand, over the past 10 years, James, a brilliant accountant, has risen through the ranks and is close to becoming partner of the firm. It was never the right time to have a baby, but with James’ career finally where it should be, the time has come, and they start trying.

Caroline couldn’t be happier, that is, until she finds out James has been cheating on her. The next day she hops on a plane to England to go on the trip that should have been their 10 year anniversary celebration.

So far, I don’t like Caroline very much. I don’t see why she couldn’t have gone to Cambridge, if they were going to wait to have children anyway. Or why wait to have children, when Caroline was just going to work at the family farm anyway? The whole premise seems silly to be honest. The author has written her to be someone who seems to think that motherhood and a career are somehow mutually exclusive things.

Let’s see how things progress.