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 felt totally captivated by this book. The characters were so absolutely engrossing, I couldn't put the book down all day! I'm glad I started this on a weekend or I would have been in trouble at work. By the end I felt completely drained, in a totally fulfilling way. Because I had invested so much energy into caring for these characters, and wondering who Lilly would end up with, and who I even wanted her to be with, I was exhausted. This book is absolutely rich with historical information and culture. It felt so frustrating that this brilliant girl with a photographic memory was not able to run a business in her own right, but it felt wonderful when, at the end, she could be with someone who appreciated her talents. There were just a few things here and there that kept the book from being perfect. I felt like there were some references made to some of the character's back stories that didn't ever feel totally resolved, but as they were quite minor characters, it didn't really matter too much. This book also had one key element that really makes or breaks a book in my eyes, what makes a book great, as opposed to "eh, pretty good". Does a book have resonance, are you left thinking about it constantly after you've finished it? If so, it is a great book. I finished this book at about 3 in the morning, and thought about it for a good hour afterward. I eventually had to whip out my Kindle and take down some notes just to get the book out of my head! I rate this book a 2, Buy with a Coupon at Borders. It is so beautifully written that anyone will love it, though I do believe the rich historical detail will make history lovers enjoy it all the more!
Do you agree with my review? Do you think I'm totally off base? Either way I'd love to hear about it, be sure to leave a comment and tell me how you feel!
If you enjoyed this book, you will love Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey, as they all take place in the same time period and are wonderful coming of age romances.
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