Lilly was an apothecary’s daughter in a small village hours away from London, but she had no intention of remaining there forever. Julie Klassen’s historical Christian fiction, The Apothecary’s Daughter, is a delightful and easy read that wonderfully brings to light a profession so necessary and yet so often overlooked. Although it manages to produce a few surprises in the minor plots, the overall story was quite predictable.
Haswell’s apothecary was the only apothecary of Bedsley Priors. It was owned by Charles Haswell, Lilly’s father. Lilly had grown up in the apothecary shop, and had taken over responsibility for its upkeep as well as assistant to her father, and care of her younger brother, Charlie, after her mother had abandoned them a few years before. Lilly’s memory and aptness for all things related to the apothecary practice, is often praised and coveted especially by Mr. Haswell’s young apprentice, Francis Baylor.
However, Lilly is not satisfied with her simple life in Bedsley Priors, and dreams of adventures and traveling beyond; she dreams of finding clues of where her mother might be and eventually finding her mother too. So when her wealthy Aunt and Uncle come from London with an offer of adventure and dreams fulfilled, Lilly decided to accept; after all, even if she did decide to stay in Bedsley Priors, because of her gender, she could never inherit Haswell’s Apothecary no matter how much she wanted to- which she wasn’t sure she did.
In London, Lillian (as she is introduced to society) has her tastes refined. However, her talent and taste for the apothecary profession never leave her and she often yearns to be able to use them again. But in London society, a lady did not save lives or heal diseases. In London, trouble was brewing between apothecaries and doctors, so Lilly’s past was craftily obscured from society and unmentioned, especially by Lilly’s Aunt who’s sole object in life now seems to be to see Lilly marry well.
Lilly’s quest for finding her mother keep resulting in dead ends, but it does manage to help her make friends along the way. Eventually her search is interrupted by a letter from her dear friends back home who beg of her to return for the sake of her father. When she returns to Bedsley Priors, Lilly finds it changed and her father in drastic bad health and perhaps even worse business conditions. She is faced with the decision of staying and helping her father regain his health and his business, or to return to London society and marry the prestigious doctor of her aunt’s dreams.
Since the introduction of the book, Julie Klassen made Lilly’s future quite predictable and the ending is somewhat easy to foresee. Throughout the story, Lilly reminisces about life as an apothecary, and the remedies never leave her mind. Neither do Francis’ large brown eyes. Still, Klassen manages to keep the reader’s attention quite well by producing surprises and twists in the minor plots for the minor characters such as Lilly’s best friend, Mary, Lilly’s brother and father, and the grim Roderick Marlow.
Therefore, The Apothecary’s Daughter proves to be an entertaining story of a girl figuring out her future and destiny while entering womanhood. If the reader is interested in light entertainment, The Apothecary’s Daughter provides it.