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📙 The Apothecary's Daughter by Charlotte Betts, narrator Anne Dover


1665: Susannah Leyton has grown up behind the counter of her father's apothecary shop in bustling Fleet Street. A skilled student - the resinous scents of lavender, rosemary, liquorice, and turpentine run in her blood - her father has granted her the freedom to pursue her considerable talents. But Susannah is dealt a shocking blow when her widowed father marries again, and her new stepmother seems determined to remove her from the apothecary shop for good. A proposal of marriage from the charming Henry Savage seems to offer Susannah an escape. But as the plague sweeps through London, tragedy strikes, and dark secrets from her husband's past begin to unfold. It will take all of Susannah's courage and passion to save herself from tragedy. ©2011 Charlotte Betts (P)2012 Soundings

About book:



"Wonderful story !!"

Would you listen to The Apothecary's Daughter again? Why?

"An enjoyable read"

Would you listen to The Apothecary's Daughter again? Why?

"Keeping my attention"

While this book is keeping my attention, and I realize that in this period of time, animals were not treated well- The authors repeated gratuitous description of cruelty to animals ruins this book for me. These descriptions add nothing to the story which would( in my opinion) be much better off without them!

"Simply awful!"

I can't believe I wasted hours of my life listening to this book! I kept on listening, hoping that the story would improve, but that didn't happen. While the performance is excellent (the reader does a great job of reading different characters), the story is predictable, melodramatic, sentimental, and the heroine is positively shrewish and annoying. The prose is also filled with groan-inducing cliches. What calamity doesn't befall this woman? It was as if the writer took her cue from soap operas, where the heroine endures unbelievable hardships only to (of course) triumph in the end. The story is also troubling because of the stereotypical representation of the black ("African") characters. I'd expect to find these representations in an 18th-century novel but not in a contemporary one. If you're looking for a smart romantic story with a can-do heroine and thoughtful characterizations, this is not for you.

"Historic novel of the 1600's."

This novel takes place in 1665 and includes the Plague endemic and the Great London Fire as part of its background. Susanna Leyton grew up working with her father, an apothecary, helping him fill orders. In fact, she knew as much about it as he did, having learned from him. Then her father, a widower, remarries-a woman whoo is interested mostly in his money and who already has three children of her own. She wants Susanna out of the house and so helps engineer a marriage proposal from a charming businessman, Henry Savage. Although she has no wish to marry, there are few jobs in the 1600’s that a woman was allowed to do besides being a governess, a lady’s housemaid, or a prostitute. So she marries Henry and finds out her husband is not so charming and has secrets which could financially devastate her. He dies of the plague, however, and Susanna goes on to further adventures involving both the plague and the fire and to ultimate happiness. This is a quick read, a feel-good book but with realistic descriptions of the plague and how people reacted while it was raging. Very good.

"Historical Fiction at its Worst."

The was that Charlotte Betts depicts black women in this story is truly appalling. It is as though she researched every stereotype of a black woman -mean, malicious, lazy, angry, defiant, sinister, sexually promiscuous- and weaved a tale of lies so cruel, so demeaning that it was most painful to endure. The worst part was the way that Betts attempts to address the realities of sexual behavior during the era of slavery. White men, white women, and black women were in the same households and sexual liaisons undoubtedly occurred between white men and black women but Betts depicts the black women (the prostitute and Phoebe) as if they enjoyed and took pride in the sexual violence, the institutional rape they endured at the hands of White men. She is remembering it wrong. And by remembering it wrong she glamorizes the sexual violence that black women faced in history and in the present.

"Good Story - hysterical whiny narrator"

What did you love best about The Apothecary's Daughter?

"Very enjoyable read"

I learned many things about this sad time in the history of England and the impact of the plague. The apothecary's craft is fascinating and so are the characters in the book. Great story overall.


I enjoyed this book a good deal. The characters are well fleshed out and the research well done and thorough. The plot did seem a bit contrived but of course it's a romance novel so it wasn't the end of the world, and it was reasonably believable.

"Fun but not smart"

I liked the setting, the narrator and the bravery of the character and the general atmosphere. However, the protagonist was often stupid or oblivious and had me rolling my eyes at some of her choices. She was brave in the moments she needed to be but often put herself in situations she didn't need to encounter in the first place. I would have liked her more if she'd been a bit more worldly competent and thoughtful. Putting her sick relations and love interests above her baby for instance was highly unbelievable and stupid on her part. Thinking she would never marry and forever live with her father while he remained single was also unbelievable and unheard of in her day and age. She was written like a twentieth century character oblivious to the needs of others except where they intersected her own while stuck in plague ridden London.

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