Alone in London, Caroline is mudlarking when she uncovers an eighteen century vial. From its markings, she believes it belonged to an apothecary in Bear Lane and she is determined to uncover its secrets, but there is more at stake than she first realizes—breaking and entering, murder, and even the police suspect Caroline of attempting to poison her unfaithful husband.
Can she uncover details of the mysterious owner of the apothecary who not only catered to women’s ailments, but supplied poisons to women with grudges against men’s behaviour? Who was this pharmacist from long ago? What made her enter this dangerous trade? And who was the young girl who was spotted near the River Thames with her?
This bi-family generational saga begins in the 1700s. The British have established Cape Coast Castle in Ghana. Because of Effia’s mother’s cunning plan, Effia is married to an Englishman and moves away from her Asante tribe to live with her new husband in Coast Castle. Esi begins the journey of the second family. She’s locked up below Coast Castle with hundreds of others awaiting shipment to another part of the world and a life of slavery.
The lives of these two families continue to the present day with each chapter centered around the following generation.
A few years after the end of WW11, Noriko stands at the entrance to her grandmother’s mansion in Kyoto. Her mother has driven away, and she has no choice but to enter the property with her few belongings. Her grandmother hides her in the attic where she is ordered to stay and not venture into any other part of the house. No one should see her because she is an illegitimate child to an American father ruining the family’s prestigious name. When she is ten, her half-brother, Akiri arrives after his father’s death and her lonely life begins to improve, but will their stern grandmother allow Noriko to escape her seclusion?
Back in my school days, we were only ever taught about European explorers as if no other nation travelled the world. So this book was a refreshing change. Xuanzang was a Buddhist monk from Chang’an who left China in the seventh century and travelled over 20,000 kilometres to what is now known as Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, then south-east through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India. He saw flaws in the translations of Buddhist texts in China and was determined to reach the heart of Buddhism in Northern India to discover the truth behind these discrepancies. His journey along with his stops where he studied with renowned Buddhist monks kept him away from China for sixteen years. Because he documented his travels in detail, this is a fascinating read.