“The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner is an intriguing and unique read. Set half in the London of the past and half in modern day London, this book is a historical mystery, keeping you guessing up until the final page. The chapters alternate between our three main characters: first, there’s Nella, the owner of an apothecary shop in eighteenth century London that is most certainly not your typical apothecary; then, there is Eliza, a twelve year old maid whose path crosses with Nella in a deadly way; and finally, Caroline, a modern day woman going through a life crisis with a great interest in history that happens upon some clues leading to the lives of our other two protagonists.
Nella’s apothecary was no ordinary place, and it offered much more than your typical cures. In fact, her shop was known best for its secret distribution of poisons. Nella had dedicated her life to aiding women who wanted to escape the clutches of abusive husbands, masters, brothers, and fathers. She offered a wide variety of different poisons, and based on the exact circumstance, she procured just what was needed to go undetected and be successful in ridding these women of the oppressive forces in their lives. In real time, Caroline is going through a troubling period in her life, and she takes a trip to London hoping to clear her head. Instead, she stumbles upon a centuries old mystery, and in the process, discovers who she really is.
I enjoyed the way this novel went back and forth between past and present, and the way that the author connects the dots between the two time periods makes it exciting to read. It makes you want to go dig up a mystery of your own, to uncover something about the past that has been lost and buried. I enjoyed delving into the lives of these women, hearing their stories and their own internal struggles, and the ways that they eventually freed themselves from the things holding them back.”
If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie is one of the most powerful, soul filling books I have ever read. Similar in many ways to the bestselling Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, this book is all about the journey that women must undergo to re-wild ourselves in a world that wants us tame and demure. The thing about this book that resonates with me the deepest is that it is all based on Celtic mythology and spirituality. The author extracts lessons and symbols from the old myths and fairytales told throughout Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany and Cornwall that we can take on our journeys to becoming who we were always meant to be, who we thought that we never could be. Abundant with stories of selkies, witches, wild women, animal guides, goddesses, and many more, these myths are truly life changing; they are stick-in-your-soul type stories. Sharon Blackie preaches about finding meaning in the mundane, in getting out of the modern world and finding yourself in the forest, barefoot and listening to the birds and the trees. In Celtic mythology, so many myths involve powerful women; warriors, queens, wise women. A symbol spoken about in this book that really lives in my heart is the triple spiral; carved into the Newgrange Tomb in County Meath in Ireland (a place I have actually been lucky enough to see in person) and seen in many other places throughout Ireland as well, the triple spiral is infinite, never ending, and has been regarded throughout time as a symbol of the cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. There is such wisdom embedded in these ancient symbols, in these ancient stories, that we must start harvesting them if we want to live a life filled with beauty and abundance. This book was beautifully written, and told with the voice of a poet.