The Lost Apothecary
by Sarah Penner
Discussion Questions:
1) The Lost Apothecary opens with Nella in her shop, preparing to dispense a poison meant to kill a man. Her work is sinister, and much about her character is dark and disturbing. When you first learned that Nella was a murderer, how did you view her? How did your feelings change over the course of the book as more of her past was revealed? Did you believe she would eventually find redemption? In the end, did you see her as a hero, a villain, or something in between? Why?

2) At the beginning of Caroline's story, she finds the apothecary vial while on a mudlarking tour. Had you heard of mudlarking prior to reading this book? Do you believe that fate or coincidence led to her discovery? Have you ever stumbled on something that you consider to be fate?

3) Both Nella and Caroline have been betrayed by men in their lives. In what ways did the two women respond similarly to these betrayals? In what ways did they respond differently? Do you feel that one woman was more emotionally resilient than the other?

4) Nella and Eliza form an unlikely friendship early in the story, despite Nella's resistance to having the young girl in her shop a second time. Why do you think Nella eventually softened her heart toward Eliza? What drew the two characters-one on the cusp of womanhood, the other toward the end of her life-toward one another? What kind of impact did Eliza have on Nella's character?

5) The Lost Apothecary is sprinkled with mention of magick, and several events occur that could be considered either the work of magick or merely good luck. When you learned that Eliza survived after ingesting the Tincture to Reverse Bad Fortune, did you believe it the result of magick, or do you think she was a lucky survivor after jumping into the freezing river?

6) When James feels a cold coming on, Caroline points him to the eucalyptus oil in the hotel bathroom (p. 195) but she doesn't tell him it's for topical use only. Later, we learn that he ingested the toxic oil. While reading, did you consider the possibility that Caroline purposely didn't tell him the oil was for topical use only? Do you think that, even subconsciously, this might have been a form of revenge?

7) James is a nuanced character. At different junctures in the story, he shows remorse and heartbreak, only to later lie again to his wife. What did you think of their relationship? Did you believe he was truly sorry for his infidelity, or were his apologies to Caroline yet another form of manipulation?

8) At the end of the story, when Eliza is an adult with children of her own, she says that Nella still counsels her to "this very day" (p. 300). Do you interpret this as Nella having lived many more years, or is Eliza referring to Nella's spirit? Why do you think the author might have left this purposefully vague?

9) While alone in London, Caroline begins to consider how very different her life might have been if she'd not remained in the States with James. As you read about her unfulfilled dreams, did you find yourself thinking about how your life might look today if you'd chosen a different path long ago? What aspirations did you used to have that you might someday like to revisit or pursue?

10) The Lost Apothecary explores the idea of female empowerment and rebelling against a man's world. In what ways did Nella, Eliza and Caroline empower themselves? Do you consider The Lost Apothecary a feminist book?

11) Which of the three characters-Nella, Eliza, or Caroline-did you find the most compelling or enjoyable to read? Why?

12) The theme of motherhood is explored throughout The Lost Apothecary. Nella mourns her inability to have children, and while Caroline begins the story wishing she had a baby, this changes by the end of her narrative. What wisdom do you think Nella would impart to Caroline about the pursuit of motherhood, if the two women had the opportunity to sit down and talk?

13) In the historical note, the author states that "in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the largest population of accused poisoners consisted of mothers, wives, and female servants." Did this statistic surprise you? Given that the science of toxicology didn't yet exist in the late 18th century, do you think it's possible that a shop like Nella's might have actually existed? Which of the many potions and poisonous concoctions did you find the most interesting or surprising?

14) The Lost Apothecary is paced purposefully so that the truth about Nella's fate is slowly revealed over the course of the story. What techniques or literary devices did the author use to "drip-feed" this information and maintain the

15) Discuss the meaning of the title, The Lost Apothecary. In your opinion, which character is the real "lost apothecary"?

(Discussion Questions by Publisher)


More Reading Suggestions
Popular Books
If you have a passion for reading and, like most, have no time to find the right book, browse the most popular books trending right now. They are all page-turners, and they all let you escape from reality.

Popular Book-  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Song of Achilles
By Madeline Miller
A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, THE SONG OF ACHILLES is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer's enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, a marvelously...More


Popular Book-The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In this entrancing novel "that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all" (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the...More


Popular The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient
by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman's act of violence against her husband-and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive. Alicia Berenson's life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter...More


Popular Book- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Circe
By Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child-not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for ...More


Popular Book- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
The Unhoneymooners
By Christina Lauren
AFor two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime-maybe even love-in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies. Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky ...More


Visit Our Blog
Browse A Little
PBR book reviews and Reading guides for book clubs
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Pintrest Follow us on InstaGram
Visit out Etsy Shop
10 Books I Can't Stop Recommending
Etsy Happy Halloween