Caroline Friday

Caroline Friday is a novelist and award winning screenwriter with several film projects in development for both television and theatrical distribution. Her first novel, The River Flows, will be published by Thomas Nelson in the spring of 2011. She is also a 2008 Kairos Screenwriting Winner for spiritually uplifting screenplays, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. Caroline currently serves as EVP of Sixth Day Media, LLC, a film finance and production company headquartered in the Atlanta area. She lives in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and three children and can be found at

The Apothecary’s Daughter

by Julie Klassen

Being a huge fan of the BBC historical minidramas, I felt right at home with this story about Lilly Haswell, a young girl living in the village of Bedsley Priors, England, in the early 1800s. Abandoned by her mother at a young age, Lilly lives with her father, the local apothecary (modern day pharmacist), and assists him in mixing healing potions and other concoctions such as St. John’s Wort and peony stalk, while caring for her mentally challenged brother. Haunted by her mother’s disappearance, Lilly struggles with choosing between her desire to strike out on her own and find her mother, and continuing to carry the burden of being the dutiful servant, caregiver, and loyal apothecary’s daughter. Only a young apothecary apprentice, Francis Baylor, seems to understand the heart of the woman Lilly yearns to become.

Things get exciting when Lilly’s wealthy aunt and uncle invite her to London to enjoy the education and culture the city affords, as well as the delights of the season. Hoping to marry Lilly off to a rich, eligible gentlemen, her aunt transforms her into a beautiful society belle, complete with silk gowns, jewels, and carefully coiffed updos. Reminiscent of an Austen romance, Lilly catches the eyes of a handsome yet boring doctor, Adam Graves, and the rich, dark, and devilish Roderick Marlow, who is the future Baronet of Bedsley Priors. A delicious combination of Darcy and Heathcliff (imagine a younger Ralph Fiennes), Roderick is by far the most colorful character in the book, and I found that I looked for him on every page. He is a dangerous man in that his goodness belies a selfish heart that will take what it wants regardless of the circumstances. I would think any A-list male actor reading this story would immediately latch on to Roderick

because of the multilayered complexity he presents. Of course, the script would need to flesh out his character a bit more and elevate him as a viable romantic alternative to the handsome and warmhearted Francis.

Many other wonderful elements of this story would translate well into film: the scenery with the dark, musty apothecary’s shoppe lined with shelves full of pots and jars of herbs and powders; the political struggle between the medical profession and the apothecary society of the day; the question of the appropriateness of a woman practicing in a traditionally male-dominated profession; and the prejudice against the sick and mentally challenged. A fantastic scene I would love to see on film is when all of the local doctors and apothecaries are called to the deathbed of Roderick’s father, and yet not one of them can administer an herb or medicine that will heal him. Desperate for a miracle, they decide to pray to God—some on their knees and others simply bowing their heads—but all of them, doctors and pharmacists alike, pray to God the Father for a healing miracle. Wow! If only we could see that today!

But the sweetest part of the story is the love Lilly has for her father, brother, best friend, Mary, and even her mother—despite her betrayal. Here is an excellent message of sacrifice, patience in perseverance, and forgiveness. I say bravo to Ms. Klassen. Let’s see more of these compelling historical dramas that grip the reader’s heart and prove worthy of BBC film production, like those of Austen and Brontë.