The Apothecary's Daughter
A book review for parents
This historical romance book by Julie Klassen is written for ages 16 and up and is published by Bethany House Publishers. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
In the early 1800's, Lilly, the daughter of an apothecary, works in her father's shop, dreams about entertaining suitors and searches for her mother, who left the family years earlier. When Lilly is 18, an aunt and uncle want to be her hosts for a season in London society. With her father's blessing, she accepts. Although suitors pay attention to Lilly, they do not ask her to be their wife because she does not have a large dowry and her mother is considered a fallen woman. While Lilly is in London, her father's apprentice, Francis, leaves for another apothecary shop and her father grows ill. Lilly returns home and devotes herself to others. Slowly, her restless nature relaxes in what God has for her, and soon Francis returns home and asks her to be his wife.
Lilly attends church, even when her father doesn't, and she pays attention to what the minister says so she can apply it to her life.
The Marlow family is the local landowner in Lilly's hometown. At times they help the people in the village, such as when Lilly's brother needs a job or to be released from jail. At other times, the Marlow son acts headstrong and impetuous. Lilly keeps the apothecary shop going but lets her father think he is in charge. His pride keeps him from asking another apothecary or a doctor for help. He does not think a client will want to purchase remedies from an ill apothecary. The first time Lilly's mother left, her father had an affair with a local woman. When the mother returned, she became pregnant with Lilly, and the other woman had a girl named Mary. Lilly and Mary grew up together, as if they were full sisters, even though they did not know that they were half sisters. Lilly's aunt and uncle have a position of authority because of their riches. They help Lilly, but they do not take an interest in Lilly's father who is beneath their class or her brother, who would not be good for appearances. They feel her father should never have married Lilly's mother. Lilly's mother leaves her family because she is in love with someone else and has the need to wander and not stay in one place too long. Hints are made that she lived less than a moral life, but nothing certain is uncovered. She dies alone.
Other Belief Systems
The social class system is adhered to strictly by most in London society.
A gentleman steals a kiss from Lilly.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- How satisfied is Lilly with her life at the opening of the story?
If her mother had returned, would all of Lilly's longings have disappeared?
Is that what she thinks would happen?
How satisfied are you with your life?
- What does Lilly long for?
Why does she feel unable to change her future?
How does she feel trapped in her life?
Do you ever feel trapped in your life?
What do you long for?
What can you do today to help you move toward that future?
- What does Lilly do on Honeystreet Bridge?
Do you have a special place where you can think about the past and the future, and talk to God?
- How does Francis rely on Lilly?
Is she helpful or hurtful initially?
Is she helpful or hurtful to his long-term plans?
What did it take for Francis to grow into his role as an apothecary?
- What makes Lilly's transition back into life at her father's shop more difficult after a season in London?
What place does disappointment have in one's attitude?
Tell about a time when you were disappointed.
How did God help you during this low time?
- Although Lilly is talented as an apothecary's assistant, why is she unable to help others legally?
Does Lilly decide to do what is right for her father's patient or keep out of legal trouble?
How does her decision to serve someone else hurt her father's apothecary business?
Have you ever had to choose to do what was right before God and serve someone, even though others looked down on you?
How were your feelings similar to Lilly's?
What was the outcome of your actions?
- Why is Lilly willing to marry any suitor that her aunt deems acceptable?
What does Lilly learn about love before the end of the story?
Does God have a plan for Lilly's life?
What is your criterion for the person you will marry?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.