The Apothecary's Daughter


This gothic tale of love and honour, deception and betrayal, set in North Africa in the 16th century, could in fact unfold at almost any time in history, and in any country. It is a universal story of inquisition, book burning, persecution and intolerance of new knowledge.

A nobleman and his wife, an apothecary nun, an astronomer-mathematician, an inquisitor, a poet who is both lover and villain, a portraitist, a Queen and loyal servants deftly act out tantalising relationships in a poignant complex drama.

They take up their roles in castle and convent, some surrounded by ornate interiors, garbed in velvets and silks, garlanded with precious jewels; while others abide in simple space devoid of art or representation, and dressed in plain linens and dull calicos.

This is a wondrous narrative, rendered in striking and erotic prose and poetry, stitched through with rich imagery, humour and tenderness. It is also a story of trade and exotic travel, both across the surface of the earth and among the stars. It will leave the heart singing and crying, long after it has been put down.

  • Longlisted for Sunday Times Fiction Award 2005
  • ‘Notable Read’ in the Sunday Times ‘Read your way through Democracy’ 2014



Latest Paperback

ISBN 978-1-874915-18-8
Published by African Sun Press
244 pages

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ISBN 0593 051785
Published by Bantam Press
224 pages



ISBN 0-5527-7167-8
Published by Bantam Press
282 pages


Spanish: Oro Rojo

Translated by Alejandro Palomas
Published by Lumen
ISBN 84-264-1547-4


“A richly romantic tale of sexual awakening, love and betrayal.”
~ J M Coetzee
“… a complex plot enriched by Shakespearean echoes.”
~ Scotland on Sunday
“An enchanting and captivating tale.”
~ New Books Mag
“A wondrous narrative, a poignant complex drama, stitched through with rich imagery and tenderness.”
~ The Sunday Independent
“A thoroughly seductive story … as indulgent as slipping into a warm perfumed bath.”
~ The Cape Times
“A languid and heavily spiced drama.”
~ The Sunday Times
“… her tale is told with great care and consideration for the reader.”
~ This Day
“Filled with rich, lush imagery … this book is a wondrous tale.”
~ Citizen Weekend