Beadsley Piers, England, 1815: Lilly Haswell remembers everything whether or not she wants to. Working in her father’s apothecary shop she can do everything without even thinking about it. Haunted by her mother’s disappearance, she dreams of finding her and doing more with her life.
I found this book absolutely fascinating. I learned so much about apothecaries and medical problems during this time period. I had thought of apothecaries as an old term for pharmacists, now I understand that while there are many similarities they are not the same thing.
I thought many of the old ways of treating illness were very interesting and different from today. I appreciated Klassen’s inclusion of three major characters with serious medical conditions. Lilly’s father has a condition that I could not quite figure out, her brother Charlie who I guess has Cerebral Palsy, and her best friend Mary who has epilepsy. A great deal of time is spent on epilepsy and I found some of the treatments frightening.
The story itself is very intriguing as Lilly tries to help her father’s business, which proves difficult since women were not allowed to be apothecaries. It is also a mystery as she tries to find her mother.
Why does God allow bad things to happen is a major theme in this book. The Haswells have so many bad things happen to them that it is hard to understand why, but God does have a purpose and a reason for them.
On the whole this is a book that builds as you get further into it. It takes a little while for it to really get going but it gets better as it goes along. While I did not enjoy it as much as Klassen’s more recent books, it is a good read. I give it four and a half out of five stars.
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Soli Deo Gloria!