I picked up The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner at Costco a few weeks ago while I was shopping with my mom. I almost always browse my way through the book pile at Costco, but I rarely buy anything. When I do, it’s fiction.

the lost apothecary
I don’t always buy books at Costco, but when I do, they are novels.

This novel is outside what I usually read, so why did I pick it up? What caught my eye?

Re-reading the back of the book, I see words that usually trigger my book hoarding instincts.

“Eighteenth century London,” “mysterious owner,” “poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives.” That last one started to lose me. Is this going to be a book about how mean men are and how women have life so much harder? Hmm…

Then, “explosive history” and “transcends the barrier of time,” sucked me back in. I dropped it in my basket along with Erik Larson’s new book, The Splendid and The Vile.

I’m usually more interested in non-fiction and classic literature than modern novels, but every once in a while something new catches my eye and I can’t resist. Why don’t I do it more often? Because there’s a 50/50 chance that it will be disappointing and then I feel like I’ve wasted my precious time and money.

Older novels have been filtered through time and become classics. They are more reliable. Modern novels seem too easy to read, the plots are simple, and the themes irritate me. But not always. The ones I’ve loved are filled with highlights and notes, and they’re usually about magical libraries and rethinking a life’s direction or priorities.

After one day of reading, I’m already halfway through The Lost Apothecary. The cover says “surprises right up to the final paragraph” but I haven’t seen any surprises yet. I like the story. I’m curious how the chapters will connect, what Caroline will find, but so far, I don’t feel emotionally connected to how any of the characters feel. Maybe we’re just too different?