Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book Review - The Apothecary's Daughter

The Apothecary's Daughter
by Julie Klassen

The Apothecary's Daughter, the second novel written by Julie Klassen, was at times delightful and intriguing. At other times I found it slightly too melodramatic and inconsistent.
The main character is Lilly, who we learn lives with her father and younger brother. Lilly is extremely intelligent and has a photographic memory. When Lilly was 15 her mother left her family never to be heard from again. Three years later, She still goes down to the dock area of her village to search incoming boats for a glimpse of her mother's face. Lilly helps her father in his Apothecary shop and is very learned in the ways of Apothecary and helping people with their miscellaneous conditions. Lilly and her father get an unexpected visit from her aunt and uncle (Lilly's mother's brother and his wife) from London who have come to inquire about taking Charlie to live with them as her uncle has no heir and wishes to find one in Charlie. They are disappointed when the meet Charlie to find that he is mildly autistic. They both agree that he will not make a suitable heir. To Lilly's surprise they invite her, instead, to move to London with them so they take her under their wing and give her a proper education and introduce her into society.
For me, the romantic part of the story is strongly lacking. Lilly has no romantic feelings and shows no interest in any of the possible "suitors" or other male characters in the story. There is no sexual tension or signs of attraction with anyone in the novel and it leaves readers wondering just what is going on there. There were also some inconsistencies in the narration that bothered me. The story is told from the heroine, Lilly's, perspective. However, at two different times during the novel the point of view switches to one of her suitors, for no apparent reason. The switch offered no additional insight into the minds of the men nor did it add anything to the story. I really believe Klassen could have stuck with the story as it was through Lilly's eyes throughout, to make the storyline more consistent. It was obvious how several of the male character felt about her but it wasn't until the very end of the novel that Lilly makes any declaration (verbally or in her thoughts) of romantic love for anyone... and honestly it left me a bit confused. I think it was necessary to introduce some tension or something a little sooner in the story in order to build the anticipation up for the readers.
On a positive note I really liked the part of the story about Lilly's passion and knowledge of Apothecary and of her father's work. I liked Klassen's village that she created for this novel and the loving way the village seemed to look after Charlie. Lilly's morals and virtue were be applauded as well as her loyalty and dedication to family and what she believed in. These were the things that kept me interested in the book.
While I enjoyed the novel, I was irked by certain narrative inconsistencies, unnecessary melodramatic plot twists and the ending where she was all of the sudden satisfied and happy with working in the neighborhood cafe instead of remaining involved with Apothecary.
I liked the novel enough to look at another of the author's books in hopes that some of these issues solve themselves in the writing. But, until then...
~Peace and Good Reads~

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