Review of the book “The Apothecary’s Secret” by Sarah Penner.
By Onintze Domínguez.
A small, hidden apothecary in late 18th century London harbors a dark secret. Its owner, Nella, creates poisons so that women who need to use them against men can get rid of them. Everything goes without incident, but one day little Eliza will walk through the door of the pharmacy, turning everything upside down.
In the current era, Caroline Parcewell flees to London trying to overcome her frustrations and a marriage on the verge of breaking up. A small object will appear in her life that will connect her with Nella and reveal a new future for her.
Narrated by the three protagonists, Nella, Eliza and Caroline, the novel takes place between different eras and points of view that complement each other perfectly so that the reader can have a global vision of the story. The agile and intimate rhythm does not diminish the importance of the mystery of the novel and knows how to maintain tension and suspense until the end.
At the same time, it reflects on the situation of sentimental relationships between men and women in the periods in which the action takes place, offering the reader the possibility of drawing their own conclusions about whether the passage of time has made concepts such as fidelity , sincerity and marriage have changed or not. The love failures of the protagonists and the clients of the pharmacy add up to a whole that, although a priori may seem like a negative metaphor for love, turns out to be a testimony of sincerity of the thousand and one vicissitudes of life and relationships. On the other hand, sisterhood as a concept present in the novel finishes weaving a plot in which female friendship has great importance, as in the lives of the protagonists.
The research carried out on poisons and medicine of the time is noticeable, which gives realism to the whole novel and the magical halo that surrounds the entire story completes a very pleasant reading for fans of historical novels. The author knows how to transform a seemingly simple plot with a story-like ending into a good reading experience.
American writer, Sarah Penner was born and raised in northeast Kansas, spending her childhood and much of her adolescence in a cabin in the woods. She graduated in Finance from the University of Kansas and worked in the corporate sector for thirteen years before leaving her job to devote herself fully to writing. It was in 2015, after attending a talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, when Sarah Penner took the task of writing more seriously. From that moment she began to take Creative Writing workshops, until her training crystallized in her first novel. In 2021, her literary debut comes to light, The Secret of the Apothecary, a historical work that takes place in 18th century London.