Lilly Haswell remembers everything — whether she wants to, or not...
As Lilly toils in her father's apothecary shop, preparing herbs and remedies by rote, she is haunted by memories of her mother's disappearance. Villagers whisper the tale, but her father refuses to discuss it. All the while, she dreams of the world beyond—of travel and adventure and romance.
When a relative offers to host her in London, Lilly discovers the pleasures and pitfalls of fashionable society and suitors, as well as clues about her mother. But will Lilly find what she is searching for—the truth of the past and a love for the future?
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs at http://www.inspiredbylifeandfiction.com. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.
How long is Lilly going to string all these guys along? Shouldn't it be at least a little apparent (to me if not to her) which guy is the right one?
It really kind of irritated me that I could see the story going in any of at least four directions, without doing violence to the plot line. And when the guys finally started dropping out of contention for Lilly's hand, it still irked me, because it felt like authorial fiat rather than developments that were integral to the plot or the characters. "Oh, so-and-so just dissed the ability of women to work; guess he's not the right guy." "Oh, this guy suddenly started acting all spiritual and suggested a prayer. Better bump him to the top of the heap." I like a few unexpected turns in my romances but this felt a bit ridiculous.
The plot generally took a few random turns and a couple of big leaps forward in time that startled me and broke my concentration. I kept thinking the author could have used the line from The Princess Bride: "All my father used to say at this point was, 'What with one thing and another, three years fourteen months passed.' "
Julie Klassen did do a lot of research into 19th century medical practices and the life of an apothecary, and those parts were different and quite interesting, but beware if you have a sensitive stomach and have qualms about reading detailed descriptions of how people were treated with leeches or lancets for blood-letting, and suchlike. :p
There are some quirky POV shifts in this book. It's 98% written in a third-person POV for Lilly, but the beginning and end scenes are, for reasons known only to Klassen, written in 1st person POV. But what was really odd was when when, after the 50% mark, we suddenly have a handful of scenes written from the POV of a couple of Lilly's suitors, just randomly dropped into the text here and there. If you're going to switch POVs, do it more often, or not at all.
The inspirational/religious aspects of this story aren't too heavy (in fact, they felt a little like an afterthought to me), but there is some discussion of prayer and God's role in our lives.
Content: super-clean, except for a few medically disturbing scenes and some discussion of married couples who have cheated on each other. For a book with so many men milling around the main character, I think there were a total of three rather chaste kisses in the book.
I'm so glad I reread this book. It's a special story filled with twists and turns. I liked that each of the potential suitors for Lilly had at least a few favorable characteristics. The pace was spot-on, ramping up and ebbing at the exactly right moments. The setting was just as amazing as the characters and plot. This is an all-around great book.
It was a little strange to wait until the halfway point to introduce points of view from two of the suitors. Once I got used to it, both POVs flowed well, but it was shocking when they first cropped up.
Content: * alcohol * marital affairs
I am eager to read another Julie Klassen book early in 2018 (it's nearly Christmas 2017 as I'm writing this). Have you read one yet? If so, which is your favorite? (This one's mine!)
I loved the writing. I loved the setting. I loved the period. I loved the characters. I enjoyed reading the story and seeing all the historical detail regarding apothecaries.
The apothecary's daughter had far too many suitors, though, and while it was fun for a while trying to guess who she would end up with, it got to be a little frustrating and tedious. There should be SOME hint or clue as to which man she'd end up with, and the readers should be able to easily figure it out, even with all the red herrings thrown their way. They should be able to look back and say, "Ah, yes. The clues were there after all. She was made for THIS man."
But given the structure of the story, I thought for sure she'd end up with a particular character, only to find out later that I was wrong. In any case, the heroine seemed to be equally divided -- her physical and emotional reaction to each suitor gave each suitor an equally good chance. My impression was that perhaps the author herself didn't know whom the heroine would end up choosing, and while I have no problem with that in real life, I like a little more certainty in books in the romance genre.
Or maybe I'm just too used to reading other books in the same genre and period. Perhaps my expectations are based too much on what I've read before; the hero was simply not introduced in a way that I thought he ought to have been. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Nothing wrong with being original.
Each chapter starts with a quote of various pharmaceutical and apothecary means as well as a few others and it really sets the scene. It is something she also used in her first book, and I truly believe that it adds an incredible important element to the way her story is told. This book is divided up into sections that works quite well. It is a long book and fabulously so, I did not want it to end.
The one qualm that I did have, is that the last section is very dark to me. Everything that can go wrong is going wrong and it was a little much to experience all at once, when the rest of the book was much more light heart-ed. I feel kinda like if there was so more happiness in there with the dark toward the end that it would have worked better. Then it ends abruptly exactly as a perfect ending as it could be. My opinion would have been to draw it out with more details and more "happy" within the dark cloud, rather than having everything fixed in a last chapter and epilogue. But then we readers cannot get everything we want when fabulous authors are limited to just 400 pages or so.
Good points and bad, my overall opinion is that the story is fabulous. My favorite portion of all is where the name for the book came from. It makes me teary eyed. And you will just have to go read it to find out why.
Once again a winner from Julie in my opinion, and I desperately cannot wait for more books from her in the future!
Seven years ago I read the The Apothecary's Daughter. My first Julie Klassen book. I loved it then and it was just as good the second time around.
I had forgotten much — okay I’d forgotten nearly all of it, so it was like a new book to me.
Lily was the only daughter of a village apothecary well outside of London. An aunt and uncle whom she'd never met came to visit in hopes of claiming Lily's brother as their heir. They were disappointed upon realizing Charlie was a bit simple and would have no way to inherit and take over their estate.
Having been very impressed with Lily though, they wrote to invite her to stay with them in London to enjoy the season in hopes she might find a nice match. Knowing her father's apprentice, Francis, could take her duties in the shop, Lily set off from the only home she had never known to an adventure she never dreamed possible.
Lily fit quite well in London's social scene and had a number of men showing her interest, but love was what she really wanted. For a quality match she was instructed that her father's occupation, and the fact that her mother had abandoned the family years before, needed to be kept secret. Lily, being an honest person, couldn't lie when the question was finally asked, much to her aunt's dismay. Suddenly her options weren't as solid.
A cryptic message about her father sent her home after about a year, and things again changed for Lily.
I enjoyed all the twists and turns of the story. All the men interested in Lily, doctors vs. apothecaries issues, her brother's problems and best friend's epilepsy made for an entertaining page-turner. The last paragraph brought it all together, and I laughed that I had forgotten that.
Lilly Haswell, the daughter of a small village apothecary, yearns for a life filled with love and adventure that will take her away from her hometown of Bedsley Priors. She spends her days assisting in her father's apothecary shop with his apprentice, Francis Baylor, and she has an excellent talent for remembering and preparing remedies. Lilly's mother left her family three years ago without a word, and Lilly still looks for her return. When Lilly's fashionable and wealthy relations offer her an extended stay in London, complete with the promise of tutors, gowns, and balls, Lilly concedes even though she will terribly miss her father and her handicapped brother, Charlie. Lilly travels to London with the aspirations to further her education, experience adventures, make new acquaintances, and perhaps, find some clues about her mother's disappearance.
“The Apothecary's Daughter” by Julie Klassen is a charming and sweet Regency tale that will fascinate readers with its historical facts and details about the art of being an apothecary. I particularly enjoyed learning about the many remedies and cures used back in the nineteenth century. In addition, in this novel Ms. Klassen subtly employs themes of Christianity and faith. She never sermonizes or moralizes, she merely stresses the importance of turning your problems and anxieties over to God and that “with God all things are possible.”
In this novel Ms. Klassen leaves her audience in suspense and befuddlement about which man will be the one to win Lilly's heart until the very end of the novel. So if you like books were the romance is unpredictable and unexpected, you will like this aspect of the novel greatly. For myself, surprisingly I found it a little disappointing and unsatisfying. Lilly has three suitors in this novel and throughout the majority of it she is undecided about which one she is in love with. Because of this, Lilly sometimes seemed to be a little fickle and inconstant. In addition, with three different male characters the book it didn't seem to have a true hero or main male character. I was a little disappointed in how my favorite suitor was abruptly abandoned and how we were left with no glimpse of his future.
Is this book Austenesque? Not really, although this book takes place in the same Regency time period of many of Jane Austen's novels there aren't a lot of similarities between Ms. Klassen's and Ms. Austen's writing, characters, and style.
Is this book Historical Christian Fiction? Yes, although I felt its inspirational and religious elements to be very light and not as meaningful as I expected. However, this book would be great for readers who don't really care much for the mention of God and faith in their historical fiction.
Overall, “The Apothecary's Daughter” by Julie Klassen was an engaging novel that I found to be a very pleasant read. I look forward to reading other works by Julie Klassen as I greatly enjoyed the articulate and accurate historical backdrop she gave her story. If you are interested in historical fiction, the Regency Era, or apothecaries than I suggest you give this book a try.
"El corazón humano, sin importar la edad, solo se abrirá al corazón que se abre a cambio.”
“La hija del boticario” es un libro autoconclusivo, que narra la historia de Lilly, quien trabaja con su padre en la botica familiar, ubicada en un pequeño pueblo inglés en el siglo XIX. La narración es cuidada y exquisita, la ambientación sin ser excesiva en detalles, es vista a través de los ojos de la protagonista. La novela está estructurada en tres partes: La primera, de presentación, donde vemos a Lilly y a la gente que la rodea. La segunda parte, se desarrolla con Lilly en Londres con sus tíos, conociendo posibles pretendientes, haciendo visitas, yendo a bailes y galas. Y por último tenemos la tercera parte. Lilly tiene que volver inesperadamente a su pueblo y retomar las riendas de todo.
En definitiva, “La hija del boticario” es una historia diferente, con una protagonista diferente: trabajadora, llena de ilusiones y sentimientos. Tiene una trama simple pero tan completa con sus personajes, sus historias y sus secretos.
To be fair, when I started this book I didn't have any concept of what it would be about beyond what one can infer from the title.
While the story itself was OK and, I'll admit it, I read the novel cover to cover over a weekend this is not what I would call a great read. Maybe a good read... but just maybe.
Point of view jumps around with little notice and the jumps don't seem to serve the plot in any predetermined way. Additionally there are times when it seems you leap from one moment to the next and have no idea how you got there or exactly when and where "there" is.
I enjoyed the story (smart small town girl thinks she knows what she wants only to be proven wrong... and in the course of events finds herself the subject attention for 3 men) but it was fairly predictable. It's not a book I would scramble to read again, but its also not one I feel compelled to toss out my apartment window into a passing garbage truck. It is what it is. And it's just OK.
Okay, this is the first book I’ve read where I really didn’t know who the heroine would end up with. I had no idea which of the 3 suitors to root for. I was rooting for one thinking he was who the author had chosen & was wrong. That aspect made me a little frustrated. The romance in this book wasn’t nearly as developed as I would have liked, but it was sweet & I was happy with Lily’s choice. There was a huge shock at the end I didn’t see coming so that was fun.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable story but missing some romance development for me & just a little something I can’t quite name. I also felt like I didn’t receive some answers I wanted. Like what was Mr. Marlow & Miss Powell’s past relationship ? Was the interest he showed to lily just rakish fun? ..I can’t wait to read her novel The Silent Governess.. it’s been on my TBR for YEARS.
The daughter of an apothecary in a small English village must assist her father and slow-minded brother after her mother runs off. Readers get to experience village life, London society, snobbery, kindness and the intriguing developing medical profession as though we walked those streets ourselves.
An unexpectedly captivating story that drew me into Regency England. I say 'unexpected' because I don't typically read historical fiction. But Julie Klassen's writing style is rich and full of period detail that supports the story instead of distracting from it. It reads like she's been influenced by a love of Jane Austin, and has successfully created characters that I think are more romantic, more real, and more relatable. The spiritual content is subtle and seamless to the plot, and most importantly, doesn't beat the reader over the head to make a point. To my knowledge I've never met Julie Klassen, so I'm not trying to butter up a friend -- I really enjoyed the book that much! I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well-written and realistic historical romance.
Below is a brief 2009 rating and review (written by me) that I pulled from my husband's Amazon account. ---------------------------------
I loved this book!
I was so engrossed in this book that I couldn't wait to read more. Each evening, I found myself reading into the night. I am an avid reader, but am usually content to put a book down when I feel I should. So, this one is a real page-turner! I liked the main character, and I think that the story itself was well written and believable.
August 2022 update: Julie Klassen seems to have changed her style from historical romances to historical mysteries with a romance element. I've read one of those (The Secret of Pembrooke Park), and it was really good, but I was really yearning for Klassen's straight romance novels. The romances I've read are absolute favorites of mine. I really should reread them one of these days.
The beginnings of the book kept me very much interested in the story, and I did feel it was well written. There is Lilly, the heroine, her father Charles and her brother Charlie. Her father took on an apprentice, Francis Baylor. It was all a happy arrangement, until her mother's relatives came to visit and whisked Lilly to London.
It started to feel like a so-so book in the second part of the book. So in London, she went to balls, parties, outings, and the like, to "find a husband", so to say. She met many people too. And then her father got sick and she had to go back home, found out her brother was working for the local Rich Guy, Francis went apprenticing with another Apothecary...
I was sort of trying to grasp the point of the book. Let's see, so Lilly had like 4 suitors. Each had his own chapter. Fine. But then the suitors, were fickle. When they are turned down once, they go to another lady, and when she turns them down, they flock back to Lily. WTF!?
And then by the end, in the one same paragraph, Francis is sometimes Francis and then Mr. Baylor and then Francis and then Baylor and Mr. Baylor. All during narration, not dialogue. What gives?
And finally in the grand finale, the title of "Apothecary's Daughter" was given to Mary, Lilly's half-sister, who died. And somehow, when never once had Lily shown interest in Francis (or, same level of confused feelings towards 3 of her suitors) that she decides that he is for her and she pines for him.
I won't say this wasn't an enjoyable read. This was enjoyable while it lasted, but I thought and thought, and I still couldn't figure out the point... and many of the reasonings behind a character's decision.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
It was just ok. It wasn't awfully compelling but the apothecary history was interesting. All of the characters were thinly developed, especially Lily's suitors. Why she would be interested in any of them is beyond me. The author wove several story threads and didn't end any of them satisfactory. The story of the disappearing mother was not well imagined nor did it have a good ending; the story of the Marlows abruptly ended with some crazy scene of the younger Marlow threatening the medical profession; and the introduction of his character in the very beginning suggested a bigger involvement and there was not one.
Suddenly out of left field we get this secret relationship from 20 years ago, thrown in at the end. Was that the big twist?
And what happened to Dr. Foster and Dr. Graves? Especially Foster, where there was clearly a history of animosity stemming from Charlie's birth.
Too many unanswered questions and a very unsatisfying ending.
I found this book rather confusing. Lillian Haswell is the apothecary's daughter. Her mother left the family and Lilly has always longed for what she believed her mother had - adventure and freedom. When her mother's brother and wife come to offer her the opportunity to go to London and have a season in London, she jumps at the chance. She is gone for several years, barely writing home. Then she receives a note that she is needed by her father and reluctantly returns.
What I found confusing about the tale were the three potential suitors and the lack of romance Lilly had with any of them. In fact, the the two relationships that most conveyed romance were thrown over for the absolutely lovely hero for whom Lilly had had little time previously. Too many disjointed, inexplicable events and a leisurely paced story made this only an okay read for me.
Julie Klassen is becoming one of my favourite authors. Reading her books was one of my biggest dreams, and I owe it to my best friend Brittany, who amazingly made that dream come true. Thanks to her, I have two books by this amazing author, both signed and dedicated, and they are among the treasures of my shelves. But most of all, thank the Lord for giving me the chance to meet such wonderful people, even when we live in different parts of the world.
Well, to the review. I doubt I can truly do justice to all the wonderful details in this book, but I’ll try.
Saying that I loved it doesn't even begin to explain how much. The Apothecary's Daughter it is a true historical fiction work that it is a pleasure to read, and what it makes it all the more amazing and admirable is that huge research work behind it. I was impressed with how many details I could learn about the work of an apothecary, the way of treating patients and how much they rely on them, even above actual doctors. It's a truly captivating story; it kept me turning the pages for hours, and wanting to get back to it when I had to put it down.
I loved Lilly Haswell, because, in despite of her many hesitations and indecisions, she’s a strong, deep character. She feels torn between two worlds: the one that shaped her whole life, in her father’s apothecary, and the infinite possibilities of the London life her aunt and uncle have to offer (she knows the world is bigger than the small part she’s familiar with - I love when a character doesn’t settle for what there is at hand, and follows her/his heart). Lilly knows that leaving Bedsley Priors will hurt the people she loves, but she can’t fully bring herself to reject the chance of education, refinement, travel, and perhaps an advantageous marriage, her relatives have ready for her in the big city.
In other aspects, she is, among the many books I’ve read, the first heroine who has three men vying for her affections, and although I’ve seen that it felt unrealistic –and even insufferable– for many other readers, I consider that it speaks of more character depth than the character itself is aware of. I mean, Lilly is a full grown woman, and her beauty and charms do not go unnoticed by the men in her life, but she has other priorities, and hardly remembers of her own heart during her father’s illness, her mother’s absence (who left without even a word to anyone), her brother Charlie’s difficulties, and the whole restoring of Haswell’s, which has fallen in hard times. The admiration from those three men is, each according to their vision of her, sincere, and she knows it, she sees it, and her doubts are not something I find annoying… I think that it makes Lilly a lot more human. If she didn’t have any hesitations about who she loved, then I wouldn’t have believed her for a second.
The three suitors are great characters, and, in a way or another, I loved the three of them. The romance is not a sparky, passionate one, but a rather sweet, quiet love that grows between the characters, and, at some point, they realize life is no life if the other isn’t there. I loved it, because you go with Lilly step by step, and her feelings are your feelings at some point, about her missing mother (with every clue she finds), her father and brother, her friends, her suitors, her patients… She’s a true historical fiction heroine.
This book is wonderful, also, because it has skilfully showed two different worlds, and entwined them in what it feels like a beautiful painting, showing the two faces of the story’s reality: the small town life, and the polite upper society one, both of them showing that they have equal amounts of lights and shadows, that none of them is perfect, but love is, at the end, what makes you choose one or the other. Lilly belongs to the two of them, as she is both refined enough for a London ballroom, and highly skilled to prepare the medicines and tonics needed in her father’s shop, having the sincere trust of those who count on it, and the Haswells’ knowledge.
All the characters in this book are lovable, even the darkest ones, and the Regency manners are so well depicted (especially with the whole education ladies used to receive, in dancing, conversation, music and communication –like, with their fans), that this whole novel felt like time travelling. But also, the wonderful display of explanations (and not just mention –I value that detail very much, because anyone can mention, but a just few, truly explain) of medicines, preparations, syrups, herbs… The training of an apothecary, and his role almost as a doctor for those who can’t afford one; Ms. Klassen put phrases and extracts from books at the beginning of each chapter, and one of them explains it all, over chapter 30:
“[The apothecary] is the physician to the poor at all times, and to the rich whenever the distress or danger is not great.” –Adam Smith, 1776.
It’s a pleasure to read an historical book from an author who actually cares about historical accuracy, and sits there to do the research, towards the goal of taking readers to another era. And while there is this kind of people in the world, the past centuries will not be utterly gone, because we will always find a way to return to them. I always say that a story doesn’t have to belong to the fantasy genre to have magic in it… There’s many types of it, and this is only one them.
This is definitely a must read for those who love historical fiction. In my case, I wanted to read this one for so many years, that I thought I’d be disappointed when I finally could, because my expectations were too high; but that didn’t happened; I utterly loved this book, and it is an astounding YES to the rest of the books by this author. Go ahead, you won’t be disappointed, and I hope you love it as much as I did!
This is a good story if you like to read about the 1800s and how apothecaries flourished (or didn't) due to superstitions or the belief apothecaries used 'magic'.
This story was also about a girl who helped her father, who was the apothecary, in his store. She was a girl, so she couldn't take over his business, but she was very smart and was better than most in her skills.
I felt this was more of a love story about Lilly and her suitors, which were more than I ever had at any given time!! LOL. It wasn't romantic but the story revolved around her daily life and the men who surround her, those who love her, those who want to engage with her. Not my favorite type of story, but it was still enjoyable.
This was my first Julie Klassen read, and I liked it. It was what I’d consider to be a more realistic Regency read, where the romance was more about connections than love (though that of course was woven in). The characters were very interesting and there were some twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting.
It was different to read about 3-4 potential love interests who all had some really nice or endearing qualities! For a little while I was torn about who I wanted Lily to end up with…but my favorite won 😉
I loved that you really never knew where the story was going and that there were a few different stories happening at once that kept you guessing and wondering what was going to happen!
This book had nothing offensive which was good. The story was too long and drawn out. The quotes at the top of each chapter from books of the historical time were the best part.
I felt the romance (which seemed the purpose of the book) was not focused. In other romance novels (from Jane Eyre to Pride and Prejudice from whom the author seemed to draw inspiration) the "hero" was easy to pick out--he was the smartest, richest, best-looking man. This book was all about whoever was left. She ended up married to the boy who was younger and less smart than she was. Sorry, that's more real life than I want in a romance novel! The author seemed to quickly try to redeem him in the end, but after reading about all the other possibilities, I have to think she settled, not got her heart's desire. A comparison is if Jane Eyre had married St. John, not Rochester.
The background story lines were distracting. The daughter's search for her mother seemed stupid, yet people call Dr. Laura all the time with similar feelings of wanting a relationship with someone who doesn't want to be a parent. The ending just seemed stupid--no way a secret like that doesn't get out! I would have liked more romance, if it was supposed to be a romance novel, or another more clearly defined genre. I wasn't sure if the book was about the purposes of Apothecaries? the lack of women's rights during the 1800s? a slice of life in a small town? how to settle instead of search for your dreams? Or a sweet romance? I think it tried to do all that and it suffered for the attempt. A little more focus would have helped make this book more enjoyable! With all that, I kept reading, so it wasn't all bad.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Empece con muchas ganas este libro esperando solamente que la historia fuera como la primera que leí de esta autora pero no fue así. Nuevamente caímos en lo mismo.
Si bien al principio si capto mi interés el tema de la boticaria y la protagonista con su inteligencia pero luego fui perdiendo el interés porque no pasaba nada en la historia. No había romance. Incluso pensé que tendríamos el misterio por la desaparición de la madre pero no. Puedo contar con una mano las veces que se menciona ese tema en este libro.
Otro tema que me termino de tumbar el interés fue la protagonista y sus CUATRO INTERESES AMOROSOS!!! Ella no estaba bien que le gustara un tipo sino cuatro! ella por todos sentía algo. Por dios era molesto como ellos andaban alrededor como si ella fuera la miel y ellos las abejas (parecía que en ese pueblo no había más mujeres). Ninguno de los cuatro hombres fue interesante o con peso fueron más bien simplones y personajes secundarios.
En el futuro pensaré seriamente si volver a caer con esta autora (Y no cometer el error de nuevo de leer un libro suyo sin leer una reseña antes) por ahora no quiero un libro suyo más.
I'm not quite sure what to think about this book. And that doesn't happen often, I either like a book or I don't but not with this book. With 392 pages that was a lot of reading for such a simple ending. It was confusing, she at one point had four men wanting to date her. I didn't know which one was "the one". Then there were some deaths I didn't see were necessary. I guess I'm kind of shocked. The poor girl went through hell and the end she was happy and married in about five pages. I'm kind of left with the feeling, that's it? I read all of this for that ending?! It wasn't the most horrible thing I've ever read but it was so sad, I'm not going to be reading it again any time soon.
This was a good book with lots of great characters. Klassen always pulls me in with her main characters. I loved learning about Apothecary's and the differences between dr., surgeons and apothecary's. I also always fall in love with the setting of her books they are so much a part of her stories and this one was no different. I did have a problem with the love story in this and it is probably because it takes place over many years. There were just too many men thrown into the mix and I had no idea who the main guy was and it threw me off, I just didn't know who to root for. This book is very clean and had some Christian themes, but not preachy at all.
A fantastic regency read, though not my favorite by Ms. Klassen. Set in a small village where everyone knows everything about everyone, and some know even more about you than you do, this book follows the life and dreams of Lilly Haswell. Lilly longs for many things, most of all escape. As the story progresses though, as with so much of real life, Lilly begins to wonder if what she is chasing is all it is cracked up to be, and even more if it is what she really wants or needs. If you are a fan of regency period work, I would recommend the Apothecary’s Daughter and Ms. Klassen’s writing in general.
After reading three of her books (and loving them all) this is the 2nd disappointment in a row. There's too many love interests, she seems extremely fickle and has no character to connect with. She doesn't want to be who she is yet after opportunities decides to stay who she is. I do not recommend this book. I found it annoying just trying to finish it. Come on I hope the next one lives up to the first three I read .. (Silent Governess, Tutors Daughter & Girl in the Gatehouse)
This is a very good story. The parts that included high-society England, as well as a few of the gentlemen, were vaguely reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice, though the banter and wit were definitely not equal. I appreciated that the story was not predictable and that it didn't all end perfectly. I'm not quite sure what was missing, but the author was unable to infuse enough emotion and longing into her writing for me to give the story five stars.
This book confounded my expectations on two fronts. I saw it billed as a "Regency romance" and winced, expecting a bunch of stock characters and a wish-fulfillment plot. Slightly later, I learned it was published under a Christian fiction imprint, and I winced again - not only a romance novel, but a tepid one filled with religious proselytizing as well. Still, I'd already downloaded the audiobook, and figured I'd at least give it a go; I am fond of period pieces and if it was awful I figured I could find something different for my commute.
I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, at how much I enjoyed the book. The narrative voice, sense of setting and historical period are all strong, and the religious aspects (while occasionally heavy-handed) only once threaten to overwhelm the main story. Most importantly, however, the protagonist is both intelligent and dynamic enough to hold our attention throughout the story; and (longtime readers will know this is my most frequent complaint) the author understands "show, don't tell". That last concept, especially, is a problem common to authors who have far more published work than Ms. Klassen, and I heartily congratulate her for overcoming it.
It's not a perfect book, however. Given that the author's posted biography on Goodreads states that she's an editor, I find it slightly ironic that the thought I had most often while listening to the story was "This isn't bad, but with the help of an editor it could be a lot better." A few phrases get used with eye-rolling regularity (I lost count of how many times "tears rolled down [a character's:] cheeks" or someone "took a step closer/back"), the narrative shifts rather abruptly from just the main character's point of view to a rotating third-person style, and the book as a whole is frankly overlong. While I appreciate the time spent developing each character and giving them all motivation and depth, some tighter editing to focus better on the protagonist would help streamline the narrative enormously.
Mostly, however, it felt to me like the novel's problems stemmed from the author's insecurity in her own voice. When she focuses on the characters she's created and the world they inhabit, it's quite compelling. When she starts to try and shoehorn it into a 'marketable package', so to speak, the problems start. Much of the overused phraseology I mentioned comes into play during sequences that feel like they're required for a "romance"; if the author had dropped them entirely (or spent somewhat less time on them) the narrative would have been just as interesting, and smoother to boot. Similarly, the religious aspects felt cut-and-pasted in, like the author had been busy telling her story and then, halfway through, went "Oh, right! I'm writing this for a Christian imprint, so I guess I should put in something about prayer!" It especially gets heavy-handed during the climax of the story, like she felt that she had to prove her story's religious credentials to the publisher. It doesn't ruin the book by any means, but (again) these parts could be edited down or removed entirely without affecting the story in any meaningful way.
Judging by this book, Ms. Klassen has some great stories to tell, and I do hope that as she gains more experience she will learn to simply focus on just that - the storytelling. Let the story speak for itself; other people will decide what to label it after the fact. I do look forward to reading more of her work.