Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Lost Apothecary” as Want to Read:
The Lost Apothecary
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Lost Apothecary

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  29,432 ratings  ·  5,034 reviews
A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.
Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 2nd 2021 by Park Row
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Lost Apothecary, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Bad Girl Bex Ha ha, just thought the same thing myself. All I can hear is Bailey Sarian whispering "Aqua Tofana" over and over again in my head, lol.…moreHa ha, just thought the same thing myself. All I can hear is Bailey Sarian whispering "Aqua Tofana" over and over again in my head, lol.(less)
Sarah Penner Jess, thank you for the question. Here are the trigger warnings:
-infidelity, divorce ideation
-bodily effects of poisoning, blood
-recall of a past mis…more
Jess, thank you for the question. Here are the trigger warnings:
-infidelity, divorce ideation
-bodily effects of poisoning, blood
-recall of a past miscarriage
-brief predatory behavior against an adolescent
-brief suicide ideation (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  29,432 ratings  ·  5,034 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Lost Apothecary
Nilufer Ozmekik
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
An avenger female who can concoct poisonous formulas to help you get rid of man trouble. This hell of an outstanding synopsis idea put this book on my radar!
To the attention of the abusers, cheaters, bullies and most disgusting human wastes who treat the women like doormats: you should beware because there is an intelligent, vicious angel of death who is also apothecary is coming after you!

Nella is a ghost, wowed to help the mentally and physically hurt women who needs her support, hiding behin
Mar 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
i always admit that im not a fan of history. but then i pick up a brilliant work of historical fiction and i daydream about life as a historian. and right now, im imagining the atmosphere of 1790s london.

this story immediate transports the reader into bustling streets, shadow covered back alleys, and dusty apothecary shelves. ive always found old, natural remedies of the past fascinating, so i enjoyed reading about that aspect of the book. it was also rewarding seeing how nelly uses her knowled
Miranda Reads
Apr 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing

100 days into 2021 and 100 books have been read. Check out my latest BookTube Video to see which ones are my fave!
Annnd here's another video about this gorgeous book!

Just finished my BookTube Unboxing & Review Video for a PR box sent from St Martin's Press along with Once Upon a Book Club's March boxes (YA & Adult)!

And whew! What a wild ride. LOVED LOVED LOVED the books this round! (Also, fun fact: Down World was my pick as a reading rep for OUABC!!)

My reading rep code: MIRANDAREADS10

Mar 17, 2021 rated it it was ok
How can a story about a secret apothecary that dispenses poison to women so that they can kill their nearest and dearest be so dull?

The Lost Apothecary starts off with much promise. In the 18th century, we meet Nella, an apothecarist who has been making poison for decades. Women come to her when they have nowhere else to turn, and she provides them with the method to kill their problems. When a young girl named Eliza enters her shop, it sets in motion a chain of events from which there is no tu
It’s fitting that I write this review today, because 230 years ago today on Feb. 10, 1791, the events that changed the lives of our three main characters: Nella, Eliza and Caroline took place.

Who are these three?

First, there’s Nella, the apothecary. Her timeline takes place in 1791. After the death of her mother 20 years prior, she’s been running her mother’s apothecary shop which has had a long history of helping women with whatever ails them. The only difference is that where her mother only
Mar 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Lost Apothecary is a beautiful tapestry of mystery, murder, suspense, guilt, discovery, and historical adventure as it unfolds in the dark alleyways of late eighteenth-century London. With the second period in modern times, Caroline Parcewell is an American, visiting London on what was planned as her tenth wedding anniversary celebration, until she discovered her husband had an affair. Now she is using the trip to gain space to think about where her life is going and why she never
Sarah Penner's debut is an intriguing and atmospheric piece of historical fiction revolving around women, set in the tail end of the 18th century in London, a story that shifts from the past and the present. In the 1790s, a once reputable apothecary, Nella, has ventured into darker and more dangerous territory, that of dispensing poisons to desperate women in dire situations due to the men who have damaged or wronged them. She intends that no woman is harmed, and she records her transactions in ...more
This is a Historical Fiction, but I would not call this a Historical Fantasy Fiction. I did not find any fantasy in this book, but there is a little bit of Magical Realism in this book. This book jumps from the 1700's told by Nella and Eliza point of view and current day in the point of view of Caroline. Caroline's life in coming apart, and her life runs into the story of Nella and Eliza. I have to say I loved Nella and Eliza's character and storyline. I liked Caroline storyline, but I could hav ...more
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, netgalley
This was a dual timeline narrative, with one part of the story in present day London, and one in London of the 1700’s. It was well written and interesting.

In the 1700’s timeline, we have Nella, the secretive and isolated matron of the apothecary, spending her days allowing women of London to obtain potions and natural poisons to take care of the wayward men in their lives. Also narrating chapters in this timeline is Eliza, who at 12 years old was sent to obtain a poison for her mistress and the
Feb 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Nella Clavinger in the late eighteenth century is a ‘friend’ to women and a ‘brewer of secrets’ and twelve year old maid Eliza Fanning is sent to consult her on behalf of her mistress. In the twenty first century American Caroline Parcewell is on vacation and takes up Bachelor Alf’s offer to join a mudlarking search. Her discovery on the banks of the Thames takes her in a journey of investigation, self discovery and realisation. The story is told by these three women.

This is fabulous storytelli
Sheyla ✎
Two timelines. Two different centuries. Women impacted by deceit.

In 1791, we meet Nella. She is a woman in her forties. She owns an apothecary just like her mother did before her. The difference is that while her mother used it for healing purposes, Nella after a terrible event in her life has decided to use it for murder. Nella supplies poisons to women who want to eliminate a man in their lives. It can be a brother, a father, a husband. Nella's only rules are not to harm women and to keep a l
Jan 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, netgalley
Once again, we have an historical fiction using the split time period device. And once again, I was not taken by the present day story. The historic story grabbed me. It’s 1791 and Nella is a woman’s apothecary, providing formulas for all sorts of women’s problems, especially problem men. When 12 year old Eliza is sent to her shop for a “remedy”, they form a friendship. Unfortunately, it’s not long before a client seeks to violate one of Nella’s rules (harm no women) and everything is put at ris ...more
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"Fancy joining us for mudlarking?" These words would soon jump start Caroline Percewell's unfulfilled dreams of pursuing a graduate degree and researching obscure documents, rare books and perhaps propel her to further exploration of past centuries. Caroline had expected to celebrate her tenth anniversary with her husband James in London. While James had been climbing the corporate ladder with the goal to become a partner in his firm, Caroline's happiness had played second fiddle. First love, th ...more
Jessica | JustReadingJess
I LOVED The Lost Apothecary. From the very beginning I was drawn into Nella and Caroline’s stories. The past and present intertwine in this great novel. The chapters alternate between Nella and Caroline’s stories. These characters are complex and trying to do the best they can. Nella is trying to help women especially her new friend Eliza. Caroline is trying to decide what makes her happy. The Lost Apothecary shows how far some women would go to rebel against a man’s world. I loved how unique th ...more
Jan 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2021
Well I think this is another case of my expectations being far different than what the book ended up being. Maybe I can’t really fault the author for that, but honestly after reading the description I just thought this was going to be something else entirely.

I mean based off of these quotes:

“female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them”

“unsolved ‘apothecary murders’ that haunted London“

“not everyone will survive”

I thought that The Lost Apothe
Apr 06, 2021 rated it it was ok
I am aware that my feedback on this novel will take me to the minority club, unfortunately, I expected much, much more ... Having waited for several months, I was eager to start the audiobook, however, despite good narrators, the book did not deliver. Why? Some moments I found implausible, and I do not mean the dual timeline, not at all. In fact, if you asked me when the book is set, I would be able to define the time only because the dates are given in the book. I did not find anything unique a ...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
4.5 stars
Take a step into the time when life was difficult for women, where men ruled the day, where choices were limited for those who were trapped in situations that they couldn't escape. This was London in the 1790's, a place that often seem dark and dismal for its many inhabitants, a place of intrigue, a place of secrets. Find a small shop hidden away in Back Alley that tried to aid these women in finding solutions and a tinge of magic in their journey. Follow a present day woman, newly arr
Larry H
Mar 24, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

The Lost Apothecary , Sarah Penner's debut novel, features dual-narrative historical fiction with a dash of mystery and drama.

In late-1700s England, Nella works as an apothecary. Like her mother before her, Nella’s potions and powders and salves bring comfort and aid to women for their physical and emotional issues. But unlike her mother, Nella’s business has a more sinister side—she’s known secretly as the woman to see when a woman needs to take care of an abusive or philandering h
Sarah Penner
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: slp
Dear Reader,

Last summer, long before lockdown, I found myself standing in the mud of the River Thames in central London, wearing blue rubber gloves and a pair of old tennis shoes. I was mudlarking—hunting the river for old treasures, which is the inspiration for my debut novel, The Lost Apothecary. Given such an adventure would be impossible right now, I hope my novel provides you an opportunity to escape back in time and embark on a story that begins with one woman’s discovery of a mysterious v
Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill
An Apothecary shop that caters to your every need...whether it be helping with an ailment or kill your husband? Ummm yes please! Sign me up for a read that promises to be dark and twisted.

This storyline alternates between 1791 and present day. I was gripped instantly as the story started to build. Flash back to the 1790's and a mere 13 year old girl pondering murder? Will the apothecary owner assist her with this? Nella has assisted many of women in her time, but a child this young? As this plan
MaryannC. Book Freak
This was such an engrossing and fascinating read for me, encompassing the wonderful pastime of mudlarking coupled with a dual story line this had me gripped from page one till the very end.
Caroline is a young woman anticipating the near day when she and her husband James will fly to London to make plans for their future and celebrate their 10th anniversary. But all the happy plans are crushed for Caroline when she discovers James has been having an affair. To now contemplate the future and escap
Amy Meyerson
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Penner kept me guessing until the last page of this addictive, atmospheric novel about an apothecary, who concocts poisons to help women exact revenge on men who have betrayed them, and the woman who uncovers her secrets over 200 years later. Meticulously researched, The Lost Apothecary is both a cure for idleness and a recipe for intrigue. Prepare to be consumed by this carefully plotted, propulsive debut.
The Lost Apothecary

A mesmerizing debut novel about womanhood, feminism, betrayal, vengeance and a stained legacy

1791 : Nella, Eliza
Present : Caroline

The story line is aesthetically written. Interchanging between the past and the present makes it more interesting and captivating. The narrative is very exquisite and have that old-fashioned classy feeling in to It.
Throughout the novel, the author heartily writes about feminism and womanhood. Women supporting women, from Nella's rules about
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Mar 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Quick thoughts:

How about this beautiful cover?

Listen to this premise: “A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.”

Told in two timelines, present day and London in the 1700s, The Lost Apothecary is atmospheric hist fic gold! Full of secrets, lies, suspense, drama, and betrayal, I loved this engrossing and juicy story from start to finish.

Genre-wise, I would say The Lo
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, audio-books
A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman. Rule

Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

What a phenomenal debut novel for Sarah Penner!! I am so honored to be one of the first to read this book!! I had no idea what this book was about when I requested a c
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
After having such a bad reading month, it’s nice to have two back-to-back great reads. First, Chris Whitaker’s We Begin at the End, and now Sarah Penner’s The Lost Apothecary !

This feminist historical fiction story focuses on three point of views in a dual storyline—1790s and Present Day London. In the present day, Caroline is running from her troubles and on vacation touring London. Caroline is hoping this vacation will give her the answers she needs to solve her current problems. While tou
Rx for Mediocre Reads: Five Stars.

Written in two timelines seamlessly woven together.

Foreboding and mysterious, the 1791 London portrayed in this dark story is one of shadows. Nella lost her light many years ago and now she hides her profession and her person behind a back alley facade.

Dispensing poisons isn’t for the weak willed and even for a centered person like Nella, it’s wearing. However, the women in the community need someone to ease their oppression.

When present day Caroline finds a pa
Blog Tour Feb. 26th!

The Lost Apothecary is an historical fiction with a dual timeline set in 1791 London and the present day. Both of these timelines deal with secrets and the agency of women. Both story arcs are born out of betrayal. The pain from one betrayal leads one woman to turn her apothecary into a means for other women to free themselves of the men in their lives. Whether it be their husband or employer Nella serves up doses of poison to kill them but make it look like they died of
Theresa Alan
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

The Lost Apothecary is historical fiction that follows two storylines told from three points of view. In the present day, Caroline is alone in England on what was supposed to be a trip to celebrate her tenth wedding anniversary. She’s reeling from discovering her husband’s infidelity. She’d wanted to get a degree from Cambridge as her passions are history and British literature, but she gave up on her dream when she got married and chose a safe life working the books on her family farm.
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Murder by poison throughout England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was carried mostly by women. “The largest population of accused poisoners consisted of mothers, wives, and female servants… Motives ranged widely: grudges against employers, the removal of inconvenient spouses or lovers, death benefits…”

London, 1791. Nella is an owner of an apothecary. Her mother started the shop for women’s maladies (as similar help provided by men was hardly helpful to women). She never intended to
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
✨Bookmarked✨: The Lost Apothecary : Arundhati, Abigail and Rushali 7 8 Apr 11, 2021 11:26PM  
Read With Me!: The Lost Apothecary 1 8 Apr 01, 2021 02:54PM  
Fiction, Fantasie...: March 2021 | Lost Apothecary 11 38 Mar 30, 2021 05:34PM  
Not Your Grandmot...: The Lost Apothecary 4 10 Mar 30, 2021 12:24PM  
The Buddy Read Bo...: The Lost Apothcary 2 4 Mar 29, 2021 04:28PM  
Book of the Month...: The Lost Apothecary 1 8 Mar 21, 2021 03:25PM  
NYT Bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary (Park Row Books/HarperCollins), to be translated into 23 languages worldwide. To learn more, visit

Readers also enjoyed

  • Three Women
  • In the Dark
  • Writers & Lovers
  • His & Hers
  • The Vineyard at Painted Moon
  • The Other Mrs.
  • Watership Down (Watership Down, #1)
  • The Proposal (The Wedding Date, #2)
  • Pretty Things
  • Remote Control
  • Disappearing Earth
  • The Last Flight
  • The Flight Attendant
  • The Thursday Murder Club (Thursday Murder Club, #1)
  • The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad, #2)
  • Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades, #3)
  • Chosen Ones (The Chosen Ones, #1)
  • Recipe for a Perfect Wife
See similar books…

Articles featuring this book

Comforting cozies, courtroom theatrics, and cold cases that warm back up...mystery and thriller subgenres are bigger and better than ever these...
206 likes · 89 comments
“First, there was trust. Then, there was betrayal. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot be betrayed by someone you do not trust ... what you have learned is the same heart-wrenching journey of every woman to whom I have sold a poison. And it is, indeed, the same path for me.” 7 likes
“To me, the allure of history lay in the minutiae of life long ago, the untold secrets of ordinary people.” 4 likes
More quotes…