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The Apothecary Rose

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Apothecary Rose (1993) Candace Robb

Apothecary RoseSet in England in ~1363.

Owen Archer was Captain of the Archers for Henry, Duke of Lancaster, until an attack takes his eye. Unwilling to continue as a solider, Owen becomes a spy for Henry until the Duke’s death, at which point he performs a service for John Thoresby, Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of York, rather that working for Henry’s heir, John of Gaunt.

Thoresby sends Owen to York, where two men have died under similar circumstances, and Thoresby wants to know of it was a coincidence, or if his ward was murdered.

Lucie Wilton is apprentice apothecary to her husband Nicholas, but when Nicholas falls ill after providing a physick that caused the deaths of two men, she fears that everything will be taken from her.

Throughout the story Owen struggles not just with the loss of his eye, but with the cascading changes that loss has caused, and what he wants to do with his life now he is no longer a soldier.

Mud might be dirty, but on it he was less likely to lose his footing. It disgusted him that he even thought of that. The loss of his eye had made him a mincing old man.

The bad guy of this story is the Archdeacon Anselm.

Lucie was her mother’s spawn. And Bess Merchet aided her. What power must come from that union. Neither woman dropped her gaze in humility when he approached. Bold, unnatural women. Wicked.

It’s not all black and white, and she does try to explain how he became the way he was, it’s still kinda difficult, because Ansalem loves Nicholas Wilton, and that love and loss (along with a rather unpleasant history) have terrible consequences for everyone.

One thing I want to note is that this book was published in 1993. It’s made clear that Anselm had a relationship with Nicholas Wilton when they were both at the abbey school, and that Anselm’s loss of Nicholas twisted that love into something possessive and dark and jealous. But interestingly, the characters don’t seem to have issues with Anselm’s love of men–there isn’t any homophobia as one might have expected, but it is something Anselm is the dark and twisted character her, and that his current lover is portrayed as weak and lazy.

Had he been a layman, his nature would not have mattered. Oh, he might have found it unpleasant siring his sons, but as long as he saw to that in an acceptable space of years, he would have been free to pursue his pleasures where he would.

Just be aware of that when you read the story.

The mystery is interesting, though I’d forgotten that the bits at the end with Anselm are slightly gruesome, and perhaps a bit over-the-top. I’d also forgotten that just how much gray was in the morals and ethics of the characters and of the society.

“You have forgiven him?”

Wulfstan shrugged. “He has confessed and performed penance.” He squinted while he measured another drop. “And if in his heart he truly repents, the Lord God will forgive him. I can do no less.”

Regardless, I very much enjoyed re-reading this, and already started the next book.

Publisher: Diversion Books
Rating: 8/10

Categories: 8/10, British, Historical, Mystery, Re-Read, Romance     Comments (0)    



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