Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus #review

Book cover of Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Title: Lessons in Chemistry
Bonnie Garmus
Publisher: Doubleday


Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it’s the 1960s, and despite the fact that she is a scientist, her male peers are very unscientific when it comes to equality. The only good thing to happen on her road to professional fulfilment is a run-in with famous colleague Calvin Evans, legend and Nobel nominee. He’s also awkward, kind and tenacious. Theirs is true chemistry.

But life is never predictable and three years later Elizabeth Zott is an unwed, single mother and star of America’s best loved cooking show Supper at Six. Her singular approach to cooking – ‘take one pint of H2O and add a pinch of sodium chloride’ – and empowering message prove revolutionary. Because Elizabeth isn’t just teaching housewives how to cook, but how to change their lives.

Meet the unconventional, uncompromising Elizabeth Zott

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My review:

If you enjoy reading about female protagonists who are decidedly different and very entertaining, look no further than Elizabeth Zott.

Elizabeth is a scientist trying to make her way in a very male-dominated world (this is the 1960s after all, so it was even more unusual to see a woman working in this kind of job). Elizabeth falls in love with her colleague Calvin Evans, a well-known and celebrated scientist, but sadly things don’t work out as either of them would hope…

Lessons in Chemistry is an enjoyable historical fiction debut that captures the difficulty of trying to make your way in a society that wants to put you into a very specific box. Elizabeth is fiesty, uncompromising (sometimes she is perhaps a little too much so) and determined.

The characters in this novel are interesting and varied – not only Elizabeth (who it took me a little while to warm to) but Calvin, Mad, Six Thirty (he’s one of my favourites!), Harriet… their interactions and ‘chemistry’ (sorry) with each other combine really well.

There are some difficult parts of this story, but it handles them well I think. The story is entertaining and I enjoyed reading about Elizabeth’s foray into television – I found that all interesting as well as the ‘lessons’ she gives on the show. I’d happily watch Elizabeth Zott in a programme like this, and I’m pleased to hear the book is being made into a drama series for TV!

My rating: 4/5


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