After learning that her husband has been unfaithful, Caroline goes on a trip to London by herself. Even though the trip was supposed to be an anniversary trip with her husband, Caroline goes alone and embarks on a personal quest.
The novel is empowering because it features a character who wants to reshape her circumstances:
“As distraught as I’d been in the last few days, I felt more alive in London–enveloped in an old mystery, an old story — than I could remember feeling in years. I resolved to continue digging. To push through the dark and look inside of it all.”
Much of the novel is about pushing past the surface veneer and seeing the secrets that lie below. After going mudlarking, Caroline finds an artifact, a blue apothecary jar with an engraving of a bear. This object reignites her love for history and scholarship that she had long repressed. Before marrying James, she had wanted to pursue a degree at Cambridge in the U.K.
Caroline learns the dreadful truth about the apothecary jar when she does research and even uncovers the centuries old apothecary and its relics. The apothecary register told the story of women who came to the shop seeking help and redress from men who had wronged them.
Both a historical mystery and a thrilling treasure hunt, The Lost Apothecary intrigues readers on many levels. The apothecary, Nessa, is a historian recording the stories of women whose stories would otherwise be forgotten. In uncovering Nessa and Eliza’s story, Caroline breaks free from her past and reconnect with her dreams.
Most of the story is realistic but there is a hint of the supernatural in it as well.