The Apothecary's Daughter by Charlotte Betts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh lovely - what a satisfying read throughout!
I have spent the last few days living alongside Susannah the apothecary's daughter in plague ridden, pestilent, malodorous 15th century London. despite the foul backdrop I had a wonderful time there.
This is above all a romance but the authors canny research and ability to convey perfectly what it would feel like to witness unspeakable events unfolding, lift it from the mundane to the delightful. As well as the unfolding romance we are introduced to plague and pestilence, the development of medicine, slavery, the fire of London and the inequality of women all very well written and researched and conveyed in a way which isn't "preachy or teachy"
Susannah has had a good upbringing and is happy and settled helping her father run his apothecary shop despite the tragic loss of her mother in recent childbirth which she was witness to. But her life is turned upside down when her father announces his plans to remarry and Susannahs comfortable position is usurped by the calculating new wife. Dogged by misfortune we see Susannah struggle to regain a place in society while all around her London falls to rack and ruin taken over by plague whilst her own life mirrors this collapse and things go from bad to worse for the unfortunate Susannah.
The story is written cleanly and simply, with little of the unneccessary flowery language which often makes restoration period novels lengthy and hard to read, yet the dialogue and narrative flow beautifully and the descriptions are vivid and believable.
Many of the scenes conveyed are truly horrific, the transporting of bodies to the plague pits to name just one yet above the darkness is a story which is a delight to read and a book I wholeheartedly recommend if you like atmospheric historical romances.
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