This cover is gorgeous! It may have sucked me into checking this out, but I stayed for the story. This is one of those books that jumps from present time back to a point in history. I’ve read several of these; it’s a popular theme that usually involves distant relatives. However, in this case, it’s a young woman, Caroline Parcewell, in present day who finds out her husband has cheated on her, and she takes off to London on what was supposed to be the starting point of trip to celebrate their 10th anniversary. There she goes on a mud-larking tour along the banks of the Thames, and finds a small glass bottle in the water. It looks old enough to be antique, and she decides to keep it.
Jump back in time to the late 1700s to an elderly woman named Nella, who runs an apothecary that caters to an unusual clientele – woman who need to poison an abusive husband, or otherwise get rid of a man. She only has one rule that the poison won’t hurt another woman. She also keeps a ledger of all the transactions, which may come back to haunt her. One of these transactions brings a young woman, Eliza Fanning, to her, picking up a potion for her employer. These two form an unexpected friendship of sorts, and Eliza enjoys helping Nella with her potions. And of course, some of these potions are put into small glass bottles, just like the one Caroline finds in the future.
In present day, Caroline ends up realizing that she gave up some of her dreams in order to get married; she embarks on an investigation to search out where the glass bottle may have come from and stumbles into a long ago mystery that she feels compelled to solve. The story jumps back and forth in time, as the women of both periods deal with their own problems.
I enjoyed this book, and zipped through it fairly quickly. It may have stood on it’s own just based on Nella’s story, but it also presented Caroline in a way that made her realize what she really wanted in life. It’s the story of women in different time periods, doing what they have to do to make it in their world.