Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus

Your ability to change everything – including yourself – starts here

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.

Book Information: Print length: 392 pages. Publisher: Transworld Digital. Publication Date: 5 April 2022. Listening Length: 11 hours and 56 minutes. Narrator: Miranda Raison.

Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked for a wide range of clients, in the US and abroad, focusing primarily on technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open water swimmer, a rower, and mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99.

My Review:

If you haven’t heard about this book then you must have been living under a rock for the past year. This incredible debut is a #1 Sunday Times and #1 New York Times Best Seller. A Book of the Year for: Guardian, Times, Sunday Times, Good Housekeeping, Woman & Home, Stylist, TLS, Oprah Daily, Newsweek, Mail on Sunday, New York Times, India Knight, Hay Festival, Amazon and many others and it has been sitting on my wishlist since it was published last year. Finally I decided to use one of my Audible Credits and downloaded the audible version last week.

Firstly, I absolutely loved the narrator and thought she brought the book, the characters, the settings, the timeframe and the story to life wonderfully and it was a pleasure to meet Elizabeth Zott through Miranda’s voice.

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t read the blurb before starting this book so I didn’t know what the genre was or even what the book was about.

I’m not going to rehash the blurb above because Lessons in Chemistry is so much more than blurb.. it’s a story about love and grief, fitting in and standing out, family and friends, chemistry and cooking and above all how we can all be who we want to be if we only believe in ourselves more.

Lessons in Chemistry has so many layers to it I don’t think my review can even begin to do it justice. Set in the 50s and 60s the readers/listeners are transported back to a time when women were only seen as secretaries or homemakers. Any women with a voice or opinion was silenced but Elizabeth Zott won’t stand for that. With her no-nonsense, straight talking approach we follow her journey from a student at UCLA to a chemist at Hastings Reseach and then a single mother and TV star on a cooking show.

This wonderful, emotional, entertaining, educational, fascinating and often amusing story of Elizabeth Zott, her clever daughter Mad, their loyal and smart dog 6.30, her kind and caring best friend Harriet, deserves all the praise and awards it’s won so far. I can only agree with every 5 star review it’s received and I can’t wait to see the TV drama series on Apple TV later this year featuring Brie Larson.

Note: if you do listen to the book, there is a wonderful interview at the end with the author Bonnie Garmus.

Rating: 5 out of 5.