The Apothecary’s Daughter

The Apothecary’s Daughter

A vivid tale of love in a time of fire, plague and prejudice (Katherine Webb)

Romantic, engaging and hugely satisfying. This is one of those novels that makes you feel like you’ve travelled back in time (Katie Fforde)

A colourful story with a richly-drawn backdrop of London in the grip of plague. A wonderful debut novel (Carole Matthews)

A feast for the senses. With the sensual language of Patrick Suskind’s Perfume and the historical flavour of Philippa Gregory, this is a lush, immersive read for historical fiction fans, set during one of the most exciting eras of the city’s history (Holiday Magazine)

1665. Susannah Leyton has grown up behind the counter of her father’s apothecary shop in bustling Fleet Street. A skilled student – the resinous scents of lavender, rosemary, liquorice and turpentine run in her blood – her father has granted her the freedom to pursue her considerable talents. But Susannah is dealt a shocking blow when her widowed father marries again, and her new step-mother seems determined to remove her from the apothecary shop for good.

A proposal of marriage from the charming Henry Savage seems to offer Susannah an escape. But as the plague sweeps through London, tragedy strikes, and dark secrets in her husband’s past begin to unfold. It will take all of Susannah’s courage and passion to save herself from tragedy . . .

Chapter 1

Inside the apothecary shop Susannah stood by the light of the window, daydreaming and grinding flowers of sulphur into a malodorous dust as she watched the world go by. Fleet Street, as always, was as busy as an anthill. The morning’s snow was already dusted with soot from the noxious cloud blown in from the kilns at Limehouse and the frost made icebergs of the surging effluent in the central drain. Church bells clanged and dogs barked while a ceaseless stream of people flowed past.

Susannah’s eye was drawn by the tall figure of a man in a sombre hat and cloak picking his way over the snow. Something about the way he moved amongst the hubbub of the crowd, like a wolf slipping silently through the forest, captured her curiosity …

33 thoughts on “The Apothecary’s Daughter”

  1. Charlotte, Have just finished reading your book apothecary’s
    daughter and I would like to thank you for such a good book I enjoyed every page. Read the little bit of your new book which I will be waiting for its release.Can you give me an idea of when it will be for sale.
    Thank you MEG.

    • Hello Meg

      I’m so pleased you enjoyed The Apothecary’s Daughter. I’m currently working hard on the revisions for the sequel, The Painter’s Apprentice. I haven’t had the latest update from Piatkus yet on the publication date but expect it to be next summer. Once I have a date I’ll post this on the website, along with an image of the cover.
      Best wishes,

  2. Hi Charlotte, I have almost finished The Apothecary’s Daughter and am thoroughly enjoying it! In fact, I don’t want to get to the end as I’ll be so sad to finish it! I don’t read very often but this book has turned me into a proper bookworm – I can’t wait for your next publication. I’ve not read many books that keep me interested but I can’t put this one down! I’ve even been researching about the plague on the internet – many thanks for whisking me back to the 17th century each evening, I’m off there again now! Mandy x

    • Hello Mandy

      I can’t tell you what a thrill it gives me to know that you are enjoying reading The Apothecary’s Daughter. I loved researching the book – I knew nothing about this era before I began – and found so many interesting facts but there wasn’t enough space to use them all in the book. I can’t begin to imagine the terror people must have felt when the plague was sweeping through the city.

  3. Hi, Charlotte. I looked up your page after your mother mentioned your novel in a Christmas letter to my Mum, Margaret – they are cousins, so I think that my maternal Grandma, Marion, was your maternal grandfather’s sister….getting confused, now….. Anyway, I have ordered a copy of your book and am looking forward to reading it. I have particularly enjoyed browsing your website as I am doing an MA in Creative Writing at Teesside Uni. I’m still in the process of writing my first novel, but it’s lovely to see the success you’re enjoying. Well done! I hope I share some of your creative genes!Very best wishes, Helen xx

  4. Dear Charlotte
    Thank you for coming to speak to us at the Waverton Good Read a couple of weeks ago. I promised you I would write and let you know what I thought of The Apothecary’s Daughter – well I have just finished it and thoroughly enjoyed it. You gave nothing away of the storyline in the Talk – just enough to whet my appetite – and now, having finished the book, and unable to read your next book yet – I’m looking into the Plague and Fire of London on the Internet to keep the spirit of your book with me a bit longer.
    You researched your subject extremely well and I felt transported into another world.
    Very good luck with the future (and I love the website, by the way!)

    • Hello Kathy

      How lovely to hear from you and I’m delighted you enjoyed The Apothecary’s Daughter. It was great to meet everyone at the Waverton Good Read Award – what a friendly bunch! The sequel, The Painter’s Apprentice has gone to the publishers now and I’m looking forward to seeing the proofs in March. I’ve had a sneaky peek at the cover and it’s as gorgeous as the one on The Apothecary’s Daughter.

      Happy reading!


  5. Hello Charlotte,
    I just finished reading your book, The Apothecary’s Daughter, and I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed it a lot! Actually I read it in german! I am a swiss bookworm, reading two to three books a week, at the moment mainly historical novels. I can’t want your sequel! As I read a lot, I want to tell you that your book is one of the best ever! Keep on going with writing!
    I wish you all the best and greet you from Switzerland,
    Daniel Heise

    • Hello Daniel

      How lovely to receive your email – you are the first person to comment on The Apothecary’s Daughter in German. I wish I could read German to see how it has translated!

      I have just finished checking the proofs for the sequel, The Painter’s Apprentice, but don’t know yet if it will be translated.

      Thank you for your kind words and greetings to Switzerland!

      Best wishes

  6. Charlotte,
    I cannot begin to express how much I THOROUGHLY enjoyed reading your book – The Apothecary’s Daughter. I love the way you intertwined history and romance in a way that was certainly not vulgar.
    All your characters were very well defined and you painted a picture of London for me that was so surreal and helped me understand a little bit more about the plague and the London Fires.

    Thank you so much for such a lovely book, I can’t wait to read ‘The Painter’s Apprentice’.

    • Hello Globetrotter!

      Thank you so much for leaving such an appreciative comment! Comments like this make all the hard work worthwhile. I hope you like The Painter’s Apprentice and you might like to know that The Spice Merchant’s Wife has been delivered to the publishers and will be out in August 2013.

  7. Hi Charlotte!
    My name is Nicole from New Zealand and I cannot believe how amazing your novel is – The Apothecary’s Daughter. I loved every bit of it! I am currently writing an essay on it as part of my grade at school. As a young teenager, I am kind of a book worm myself! I love books from the historic Victorian times and this book has given me an insight as to the hardships many faced back then. May I ask, were the events in this novel true at some point, or were they inspired by someone you know?
    Thank you so much for reading this, please know that you are truly AWESOME 😀
    Love Nicole

    • Hi Nicole! It’s lovely to have your message all the way from New Zealand and I’m very pleased you enjoyed The Apothecary’s Daughter. I’m flattered you are using it to write about in an essay. The characters were entirely made up by me but I spent a lot of time researching the 1660’s and reading the diaries of Samuel Pepys. The Great Fire and the plague were actual events and I’ve kept the facts her historically correct and woven my love story through these events. You may like The Painter’s Apprentice, which is the sequel. Keep reading! All best wishes, Charlotte

  8. Hi Charlotte, congratulations for “The Apothecary’s Daughter” also from Italy!! The best book ever!! I’ve read it in 4 days and I’m waiting for the sequel!!! Keep write on ;-). Bye bye, Rossella

  9. Hello Rossella!

    How lovely to hear from you in Italy and I’m pleased you enjoyed The Apothecary’s Daughter. I hope the sequel, The Painter’s Apprentice, will also be translated into Italian but I don’t know yet. Best wishes!

    • I hope it will be translated in Italian, if not I’ll read in its original language. However, Italian translation for the first book was very good! It’s possibile for you to know if there will be the Italian translation for the sequel too and also the month for the release?
      Thank you for your kind answer 😀

      • Hello again Rossella!
        Unfortunately I haven’t yet signed any contract with the publishers as I expect they are waiting to see if sales go well in Italy. Perhaps you could email them and tell them you enjoyed The Apothecary’s Daughter and see if it will encourage them!
        Your English is excellent so perhaps you would still enjoy The Painter’s Apprentice untranslated?
        Thank you for your interest.

        • Thanks 😉
          Could You give me the e-mail address to ask for the Italian release, please?
          Thank You very much and have a nice day!

  10. I am half way through ‘The apothecary’s daughter’, and I am enjoying it very much. I do not usually read historical fiction of any kind, but have been able to download some wonderful historical romance books for free on kindle. I read an article about your book in ‘Writing magazine’ some time ago and remembered the title of this book. I bought the paper copy, and cannot put it down. I am currently writing a historic novel, and this has certainly enabled my writing juices to flow again. ‘The apothecary’s daughter’ is an exceptional debut novel, with wonderful descriptions and depicts the period beautifully. I am truly hooked! Although my book is not even within the same century time period you have certainly opened my eye’s to a new genre, which I shall enjoy for years to come. I find the characters likable and the plot easy to follow. It all feel’s so real sometimes. I still have half the book to read but will enjoy it- the trouble is putting it down!

  11. Hello Charlotte, I have enjoyed reading “The Apothecary’s Daughter”. I caused a stir at my book club, I wanted to address the issues of slavery that remains a strong theme in the book. They felt that I was making too much fuss. As a black woman married to a white man I am very aware that some of the attitudes that you alluded to are present today. Thank you for highlighting these issues. I finally got up and left when they described your novel “as just a story”. There is power in the write word and your work has inspired me. Many blessings.

    • Hello Diane
      The sensitive subject of slavery was very difficult to write about without offending anyone. I had the problem that the attitude of the people of the mid C17th, with regard to slavery, was very different from how we look at it now.
      I wanted to show the authentic views of the time but without alienating the reader. I hope I achieved this with Susannah, even though it took her a while to understand. Susannah’s problem with Phoebe wasn’t because she was black but because she didn’t understand Phoebe’s hostility to her. She might have felt just the same if Phoebe had been Chinese, for instance. The British were hugely suspicious of anyone ‘foreign’!

      Until only a few years before my story black people were working in the fields as indentured servants, not slaves. It was the greed of the plantation owners that made them realise that the black workers were much better and more suited to toiling in the heat than Europeans. And so slavery grew – almost unimaginable to us now.

      Who would play Phoebe in a film of The Apothecary’s Daughter? I’m not sure. I don’t have time to watch much television or see many films, and perhaps there is a lack of role models, but she would be beautiful and exotic with sleepy, sexy eyes and a sashay in her walk! Who do you think would be good in the role?

      Thank you for taking the time to tell me you liked the book. Phoebe, Joseph and Emmanuel were such favourites of mine that they have cameo roles in The Painter’s Apprentice, so you might like that, too!

      Best wishes, Charlotte

  12. Hello Charlotte, I have been looking for a good book to read for ages and ‘The Apothocary’s Daughter’ has lived up to my high expectations! I never thought I would enjoy an historical novel but now I find myself wanting to know more about the 17th century in England (London in particular) after reading your book. Each night I look forward to going to bed just so I can be transported back in time through your writing. I can’t wait to read more of your work.

    • Hello Simone, thank you for your kind comments and I’m delighted you enjoyed The Apothecary’s Daughter and that it has introduced you to historical novels. I think Susannah is a very ‘real’ character and easy to identify with so the historical aspect of the story is a backdrop to the love story. You may like The Painter’s Apprentice which is a follow-on story about Susannah’s daughter. The Spice Merchant’s Wife starts with the Great Fire of London and then The Milliner’s Daughter is a short story about Arabella that will come out in October as an e-book. Happy reading!

  13. Hello Charlotte, thank you so much for creating such a wonderful book. I was totally captivated, as though I’d walked through a portal, suddenly finding myself living alongside your characters. Your historical detail created a wonderful world in which I could disappear for a time and that hasn’t happened for quite a while. I’m sure I worked in an apothecary in a previous life because I felt such a strong connection to the work, the time and the place. You have a wonderful gift and I can’t wait to read your next book. With heartfelt thanks, Silvana (Australia)

  14. Hello Charlotte,
    I have just finished ‘The Apothocary’s Daughter’ it was a most excellent read.
    The characters became very real and the indepth story of the great fire of London and the ravenges of the plague were brought to life. I was with them all the way.


    • Hello Sue

      Thank you for taking the time to tell me you enjoyed The Apothecary’s Daughter.

      The Great Fire of London was a dramatic event and when I finished writing The Apothecary’s Daughter I still couldn’t free my mind of the images. Subsequently I wrote The Spice Merchant’s Wife, which tells of what happened to Kate Finche after her home and livelihood is destroyed by the fire.

  15. Absolutely LOVED the apothecary’s daughter!! I am studying pharmacy and one of the first things we did was learn about apothecary’s and when it all began and I loved it so to pick this up, it was familiar to me in a way. Add to that a love story and it was great! Can’t wait for a sequel. I got up to chapter 30 and didn’t want it to end and wound up going very slow. 🙂 I borrowed a copy from the library but have now went out and purchased it for my own collection of books. Love the way you write, don’t ever stop.

    • Hello Liz
      What a fantastic comment to receive, especially as I’m working hard on the next manuscript, and it spurs me on to hurry up and finish it! Good luck with your pharmacy studies!

  16. Hi, I am wondering if this and the other books will again be available as a Kindle e-book. I see it on the Amazon UK site but not available on the US site. I thought it looked like others bought them in the e-book format. Thanks.

  17. Dear Charlotte Betts,

    I’m studying about history of pharmacy and your book is related to my topic. I want to ask some questions about pharmaceutical details in your novel. May I contact with you via your e-mail etc?
    Best regards


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