Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
“Children, set the table. Your mother needs a moment to herself.”
Elizabeth Zott is a brilliant chemist. But she’s also one of the few people who see her that way. With her no-nonsense attitude and unstoppable determination, she is an unwavering, unflinching, and utterly captivating character. While working at Hastings Research Institute, she meets Calvin Evans — another young and brilliant scientist. But when Elizabeth finds herself a single mother, she takes on the role of cooking show host, Supper at Six in order to pay the bills. But this unconventional TV host isn’t content to simply teach housewives to cook, she’s challenging them to more.
If I was to use one word to sum up this book it would be “quirky.” Elizabeth’s character is unique and fresh, and the writing style of Bonnie Garmus aligns with that perfectly.
There was also a really great blend of emotion within the book. You have moments that are ridiculous and light-hearted, but also genuinely tinged with grief and anger at the ignorance of the times. There are characters that you won’t be able to stand, and ones that have you falling in love. And while the story is coated in a comedic layer, it also speaks to some very heavy subjects, attitudes, and actions.
While it took a little longer that I expected to get to the “beloved cooking show” aspect, the characters took me on a journey that was lovely to follow along with. In addition to Elizabeth, you have Mad and the utterly delightful dog Six -Thirty, (who may be one of my favorite narrators in a really long time!)
With its brilliant heroine and touching storyline, I predict Lessons in Chemistry to be a very popular choice for book clubs in the coming months!
Readers who love quirky stories full of wit, heartache, and supremely confident female characters.
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. My copy of this book was provided courtesy of the publisher, Penguin Random House Canada. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher) A delight for readers of Where’d You Go, Bernadette and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, this blockbuster debut set in 1960s California features the singular voice of Elizabeth Zott, a scientist whose career takes a detour when she becomes the star of a beloved TV cooking show.
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with–of all things–her mind. True chemistry results.
But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.
Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.