Focus on the Family

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.

Plot Summary

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.

Christian Beliefs

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.

Authority Roles

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.

Profanity/Graphic Violence



A gentleman steals a kiss from Lilly.



Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

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.