Sarah Penner’s debut novel is a dual timeline story moving between 1791, with apothecary Nella dispensing cleverly disguised poisons to women desperate to stop the abusiveness of the men in their lives, and modern day, with Caroline, a woman who had dreams of becoming a historian, but who set aside her dreams so her husband could achieve his dreams. When Caroline finds out her husband is cheating on her a few days before their 10th anniversary trip to London, she decides to go to London by herself. When she finds a blue vial with an unusual etching on it, she decides to delve deeper and find out what the vial is. It is then that her life intersects with the life of the 1791 apothecary.
Penner has written an atmospheric and well-paced novel that takes her readers to 1791 where they can almost feel the despair and desperation of the people, especially women, in the back alleys of London. The characters are well drawn and likable and readers will quickly feel like they know them. As the author switches between the timelines, readers will find one timeline as engrossing as the other.
This is a story of secrets, revenge, betrayal, poisons and potions, and a network of women who are determined to control their fates. This is a fast paced debut novel rich in historical detail with unforgettable characters that will keep you turning the pages until the final chapter!
If this is your first foray into historical fiction or if you’re a long-time fan of historical fiction, put this book at the top of your to-be-read list.
I will be anxiously awaiting the next breathtaking novel written by the amazing Sarah Penner.
So many thanks to Harlequin Park Row and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my complete and unbiased review.