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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

Overall rating

4.2 out of 5
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31 reviews have 5 stars
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All Book Reviews

  • Great book

    I loved reading this. A great story of women, their trials, loves and happiness

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  • Best book I’ve read in a long time

    Words do not begin to describe how deliciously fantastic this book is....I have at least 6 other people reading it now ;)

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  • Immersive and emotional

    This immersive dual timeline story focuses on three women, Nella the apothecary and sometimes poisoner of vile men, and Eliza the young precocious maid together in 1791, and Caroline of the woeful marital troubles and horrid husband in the present day. Female friendship and women supporting other women were threads running through every aspect of both timelines. In a world that often demands the submission and compliance of women these three threw off the mantle of the expected and endeavored to find their own paths as independent women in a world that was, and still is, tailored to men. As a huge historical fiction enthusiast, I admit that I was more absorbed in Nell and Eliza’s story than in Caroline’s. Whenever the timeline switched to Caroline, I was eager to get back to Nella. The attention to detail and descriptive imagery made me feel like I was in that dark, hidden room full of vials and poisons with the characters. I swear I could smell the herbs and taste the calming tea. Caroline’s life wasn’t completely uninteresting but a cheating husband and the pressure of family and societal expectations on a modern woman just didn’t have the same level of anxieties as Nella’s story, which was literally life and death. Nella’s story was chock-full of consequence and real danger and it made Caroline’s troubles look fairly trifling by comparison. I also really despised Caroline’s husband and her lingering feelings for him. I am sure I am not the only one who was hoping Caroline would use what she had learned about poisons to brew up something for her lying, cheating spouse! The two timelines dance together but never truly touch until right at the end. The conclusion of Eliza and Nella’s story left me shattered and in tears and the end of Caroline’s story put some of the pieces of my heart back together. There is a lot to cry about in this book from miscarriages to sexual harassment, misogyny, and infidelity. A woman’s life has never been easy or free of tragedy. The stakes were much higher in the past and freedom and independence more elusive but even modern women struggle with some big issues. Thankfully, we have a lot more options than women in the past. It is no mistake that Nella’s story set in the 18th century ends with tears and Caroline’s story in modern days ends uplifting and hopeful. While I often think we have so far to go to achieve gender equality stories like this make me also consider how far we have come and the many women who bravely struggled to get us here. I listened to the audiobook and I would highly recommend the format for this book. There were three female narrators, one for each main character and they were perfect for their roles. I especially liked Nella’s narrator as she brought to life the weariness and pain of her character in a gravely, hoarse voice. I also enjoyed Eliza's narrator as she portrayed young and perky with ease and the contrast between the two in the chapters set in the past left me in no doubt as to which character was speaking. Caroline’s narrator was also very good, but I feel like she had less personality and tragedy to play with. Thank you Harper Audio/Harlequin Audio for providing an audiobook copy via NetGalley for review.

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  • Great book

    Loved the mystery and history. Well told and well read

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  • Strong Women

    Great story about strong women whose lives intertwine in an important way.

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