Cover Image: Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry

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Member Reviews

I was lucky to get a an early copy and this book lived up to the hype in the bookish world

It took me by surprise because it is very funny and witty to read. But it also does touch on some serious themes but is so well written that the book is well rounded in delivering the plot.
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Funny feminism with a message.

This book has been so widely reviewed it's hard to add anything new.

Loved it for its wit and feminist message. A male colleague read it too and asked were things really like that for women- the casual sexism, groping, being ignored at meetings etc etc. Sadly some of this still goes on which makes the book even more valuable.
It will obviously make a great TV series/ film (please get a female director)
It's witty , smart, a page turner with mass appeal and I have handsold lots of copies to our customers who have loved it. A great book.
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One of my favourite feelings of picking up random genres in succession, without paying attention to the blurb, is the thrill of meeting the unexpected. that might be too far-fetched a description, so I will try to explain it a little better. Obviously, I read the blurb before requesting to read advance review copies, but by the time I get to them, I do not have the exact details in my mind, something that I usually appreciate. In this case, I certainly did. I started reading this at night, not knowing I would struggle to put it away. I ended up sitting with it the first thing after my morning routine and not getting up till I was done. I was left with a mild headache, but it was totally worth it.
This story begins through the voice of a precocious child. Her mother is unhappy, as people close to her can see. She was born a little too early for her inclination (or maybe it is easier now, thanks to actual people like this). It is the 1960s, and our leading lady does not want to be a leading lady. She wants to work in Chemistry and be taken seriously for the things she knows she does well. Given the way things started, I did not expect the love story that I got. The narrative moves to a flashback to show us how the Elizabeth Zott we see now came to be here. The change in pace between the times did provide an additional depth to the narrative.
Elizabeth Zott fights tooth and nail to carve out a place for her and her daughter. There is sadness in the background but imparting knowledge the best way she sees fit is satisfying to her. The story feels like it would make a perfect series on TV (given that a chunk of it revolves around television). Their dog Six-Thirty is someone to watch out for as well.
The lead character is not perfect and has her own flaws, sometimes being as inflexible in her behaviour as some of her opponents in the narrative, but the overall writing effect and the characters made for an engrossing read.
There is violence mentioned that is hard to get past, something that feels very real and lingers throughout the book even when we hit the high notes towards the end. It is a fact that most average readers should know to watch out for.
I received an ARC thanks to Netgalley, and the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
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What an incredible book. Set in the late 1950s, Elizabeth Zott is a chemist who is battling sexism and misogyny in her every day life. I don't want to say too much about the plot line, but I can tell you that I was gripped from the start. Brilliantly written, funny and also heartbreakingly sad in some places. It brought all my emotions including anger and pride.  The central character is a force to be reckoned with and I think that every woman still needs an Elizabeth Zott in their lives.  Strong, feisty, and never giving up in the face of adversity, she is truly inspiring.  I just wish she were real!

I would recommend this to anyone, it's a must read for 2022. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Not just a lesson in Chemistry, but a lesson in humanity, character, integrity, faith, determination and love. An absolutely fantastic debut novel from Bonnie Garmus.  This book nourished my soul.

Elizabeth Zott is a female scientist fighting for her place in society, in a workplace dominated by chauvinists and doing what she can to nuture the one relationship she has had in life that is actually good for her with fellow scientist Calvin.

On the surface you think the book is a love story, but it's the perfect kind of book, it's an onion.....peel back layer after layer and you get juicy stories of friendship, prejudice, class divides. social constructs and a woman fighting to live a life she more than deserves. It's a book that made me laugh, made me cry, made me shake my head in rage, but it filled my soul with hope, empowerment and determination.  I think this book will speak to a lot of women on so many levels, as a worker, as a friend, as a mother.

I fell in love with six thirty the minute he walked up the street, dogs can sense "good" people and Elizabeth Zott is a fictional leader I wish I could follow into the workplace in real life.  

A book that I would recommend to everyone I meet.
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There was a lot of pre- publicity hype for Lessons in Chemistry which can be bad news for a book if it doesnt live up to expectations. I'm so pleased that in this case, my worries were unfounded - a triumph of a book!

In the late 1950s,  Elizabeth Zott is a research chemist at Hastings Research Institute in southern California. Her male co-workers refuse to take her seriously except for Calvin Evans with whom she eventually begins a relationship.  Her constant strive to be taken seriously and have equal rights is something that we should all be grateful for. She stands her ground, challenging people's stereotypes about what women should or shouldnt do,  Her career moves on and she becomes a successful TV chef.

The book is fastpaced and witty, with messages to be taken away for all of us about the fight for equality and to be seen as who we are.

Thanks to Netgalley for the chance to read the advance copy
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Elizabeth Zott is a research chemist. Or at least, she would be if this wasn't America in the early 1960s. So, because she's a single mother with a child to support, she finds herself the reluctant star of the new cooking show "Supper at Six". But whilst you can take the woman out of the labartory, you can't take the scientist out of the woman. Change is something we are chemically designed for and it's a lesson Elizabeth is going to make sure everyone learns.

Books set in the 1960s are one of my brands of literary catnip, and all the praise this book is recieving is wholeheartedly deserved. Reading it, there are many moments where if you're a woman, even if you've not experienced much, or any, systemic sexism, you'll find yourself relating to (the "handling" of those with short/difficult tempers - related to that HARD) and you'll be f***ing glad that we've moved on since the 1960s (I know that there's still work to do - there will (probably) always be misogynists and those determined to roll the clock back - but to imply we haven't moved on at all since then is rubbish).

Elizabeth Zott speaks her mind and is not afraid to challenge the staus quo just because it's hard, but she's also respectful of others' rights to hold opinions and beliefs different from hers, even if she's not afraid to challenge them. She's not asking for special treatment, just to be afforded the same rights and choices as everybody else (i.e. men), really just that we treat each other as decent human beings, which is not much to ask. We need more people like her.

Lessons in Chemistry is both genuinely moving and genuinely funny, with great writing and characters that you'll love, others you'll love to hate and others that will surprise you. And you may even learn something about chemistry.
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For me, this book has suffered due to too much hype prior to release. I personally thought it was good but I was expecting more.

I was excited that this book was about empowering women and changing the status quo, but it missed the mark with this topic for me. The main character, Elizabeth Zott was fantastic in that she stayed true to herself and encouraged those women around her, but I felt there was so much for scope for the author, that she just didn’t explore.

It’s the late 1950s and Elizabeth Zott is a research chemist at Hastings Research Institute in southern California although her male co-workers refuse to take her seriously. All except Calvin Evans with whom she eventually begins a relationship. A few years later Elizabeth is surprised to find herself the mother of a young child and the host of a cooking show on TV.

I liked Elizabeth in the beginning and felt badly about how she was treated in her male-dominated world but by the time we got to her cooking show she was starting to wear on me. No matter how intelligent she was, I couldn’t believe how oblivious she seemed as far as social niceties and appropriate behaviour were concerned. It seemed to drag on and just wasn’t as interesting of a storyline as I hoped. I didn’t feel any real excitement reading it but I was happy with the ending.

I had such high hopes for this debut novel. I wanted her to have a happy ever after, I really did, but I also knew this was impossible given how realistic to the time the majority of the book was written. That is likely the reason why the ending feel flat for me.
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Here for Six Thirty
Raging misogyny
Gratitude to all the feminists before me

What an utterly brilliant read Lessons in Chemistry was. It was funny, with so many lines making me laugh out loud, it hurt my heart in numerous parts, it made me feel angry but it was overall wonderful. A read for all genders who are feminst.

This era of feminism (1950s) isn't one I've reflected on much but life was damn difficult for those crossing very set boundaries. Elizabeth Zott, chemist, feminist and one prone to bold, frank speech had her work cut out. The tale took us through her life in a male-dominated academic profession, falling in love, family and fighting to find her place again. It was sweeping, captivating and full of immense hope. Zott never meant to be funny but she was.

This read was equally challenging as it was amusing. Elizabeth Zott experienced things one never should, as did other women in this piece. I want to say nothing about the other character in this book that sold the story one chapter at a time, because if you read this, you need to discover this character as it arises (sorry for the mystery).

I finished the final pages in utter tears. I've been thinking ever since about how I have strode on in academia, yes facing misogyny, but nothing like Zott did. I was able to apply for and complete a PhD and be respected for my work and contribution to knowledge without thinkng there's a man behind it. I am grateful to every women that has strode before me on this journey.

What a book, a total must-read.

Thank you to Transworld books for the review copy.
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Unfortunately, this was a DNF from me.

I really liked the premise - an intelligent and independent female scientist in the 50s trying to make her way in a male dominated environment who becomes a TV icon. 

The novel started out well but quickly deteriorated with seemingly irrelevant sections that just dragged (the most prominent one being the rowing - what was the point of this?). The sexism was rife throughout and extreme in parts, with a sexual assault occurring within the first 30 pages. I also wasn't very invested in the romance.

I have seen so many positive reviews for this and perhaps I will come back to it, but with over 300 pages still left and not much happening, I am putting it aside for now.
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Wow. This book was amazing. From start to finish, I was hooked to finding out more about Elizabeth's story. Even though this book was set in the 50s and 60s, the story's gritty and poignant messages are still relevant today (which is kind of sad) which means that this book is such an important and eye-opening read and I think it would be relatable to any woman but especially those that work in STEM.
I think one of the real joys of this novel was the fantastic characters. From Elizabeth herself and the hilarious dog Six-Thirty to the brilliant Calvin and they're inquisitive daughter, I just absolutely adored all of the characters and I found them so charming and entertaining. 
The writing itself was fun and quirky whilst also being so heartfelt and emotional. I teared up while reading this book at multiple points which is really rare for me. 
Definitely recommend this to people who love women's fiction and books about strong women.
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Elizabeth Zott is a chemist. 
She’s also a mother, a rower, a dog owner and an inadvertent new face on TV, but let it be known that she’s first and foremost a scientist.

The whip-sharp Lessons in Chemistry follows her unlikely journey to starring on a cooking show (but she knows it’s really a chemistry show) and her struggles for credibility in a male-dominated industry.

Chronicling experiences both Hilarious and frustrating, this book set in the 1960s feels luckily removed from society today, but even so we still feel the echoes of a time when women in STEM were virtually unheard of, unwed mothers were ostracised while the men brazenly took all the credit. 

If any of this sounds familiar you’ll love this book and feel enraged on behalf of Zott.
Not least because of the super quirky ensemble cast of this fab book. Elizabeth’s young daughter Madeline, and Six-Thirty, the most perceptive dog in literature, are amazing characters, among many others. It’s also that rare and wonderful combination of an easy read that doesn’t skimp on substance.

Lessons in Chemistry is on the whole a very fun, faced paced escapist read, written with perpetual humour as well as huge amounts of credibility. 

I loved it!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me access an advance copy of this book in exchange for my feedback.
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Well that was deeply satisfying.

Bonnie Garmus's novel Lessons in Chemistry is the story of Elizabeth Zott. Friend. Mother. But most importantly she is a scientist. Time hasn’t been kind to Elizabeth Zott. She was born in the wrong era when women were meant to be subservient and they certainly weren't meant to practise the sciences. But Elizabeth Zott breaks the mould. When she gets the opportunity to present her own cookery show she takes on the challenge in the only way she knows how…by making it an experiment.

Lessons in Chemistry is up there as one of my favourite books of the year. I took my time with this novel, I didn’t want to hoover it because I had heard so many amazing things ad I am so glad that I did because it was a phenomenal look at the expectations of society and how if you give people a chance they can surprise you.

Lessons in Chemistry is an absolutely corker of a novel and one I know will be in my top ten of the year.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is available now.

For more information regarding Bonnie Garmus (@BonnieGarmus) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House (@ramdomhouse) please visit
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With echoes of Elizabeth Strout and Anne Tyler, this has to be the debut novel of the year. Featuring the mesmerising and strident character of Elizabeth Zott, Garmus has created a hugely affecting and perceptive book that is both evocative and life affirming.  Steeped in the atmosphere of the period and the narrow opportunities available to women, this is a beautiful rendition of one woman's life and obstacles.
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I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Elizabeth Zott is a unique and fascinating protagonist for a novel that centres around empowerment of women. Whilst she is, in the main, anything but empowered during most of the narrative it remains her ultimate quest. I loved everything about this book the quirky characters and a genuinely novel storyline that kept me hooked from start to finish.

I found it difficult to put the book down and finished in just over the day. Bring on more books like this
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I think Elizabeth Zott is probably about to become everyone's new favourite heroine. This lively novel is clever and engaging and heartfelt – and, like it's delightful protagonist, it's absolutely no-nonsense. The story follows the remarkable Elizabeth Zott as she navigates the male-dominated world of science in the 1960s. A family tragedy leaves her bringing up her daughter solo, while career challenges lead to her becoming the very unwilling star of a TV cookery show. Full of wit, warmth and good humour – and a lot of science – this book is bound to become a big favourite.
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An absolutely wonderful book. I thought the end was a little silly and that the benefactor would have tried harder but overall it was brilliant and I am in love with EZ.
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I really wanted to like this book. THe story seemed fascinating, and sadly still relevant-the difficulties of women being taken seriously in STEM, a change of career, and the difficulties of having it all. In the 50s! THe book started off very well, and Garmus doesn't pull her punches about the discrimination women faced, the near-constant objectification, the danger of sexual assault and the improbability of justice being served. I found the characters well-written, and the story gripping, till around 50% of the book, when it started becoming tedious, and the protagonist, Elizabeth, comes across as a self-righteous prig. The book then unfortunately turns into one of those "not like other girls" books, while also preaching against discrimination against women. Garmus seems to actively dislike women apart from her impossibly beautiful, genius protagonist with a genius daughter who reads Nabokov and Mailer at 5 ( also, interesting that the protagonist doesn't mind her daughter reading Mailer while she rails against misogyny and how racist The Mikado is-didn't know Mailer was that acceptable to proto-feminists. ). For all the virtue signalling attitudes Elizabeth harangues the reader with, and all the supposedly profound literature her daughter reads, her only reference to anything remotely involving BIPOC characters is "Five days with the Congo cannibals'. Of course. How incredibly inclusive of her . None of the women characters are particularly well-written, they all fall into tropes: gossip, the vindictive one who has a change of heart, the lonely neighbour who's really a saint and provides ELizabeth with unpaid childcare. ELizabeth gets a job hosting a cooking show, and manages to be incredibly condescending to housewives, while also preaching about the value of housework. THis is presented to the reader as a devastating come-down for her, a genius chemist-however, this isn't really a bad option since she seems to get to pretty much run the show the way she chooses, and not just use chemistry while she's at it, but communicate her love of it to a wider audience, and get paid much better than she did as an underpaid researcher. Most other women wouldn't even have been given this option-Black women in the 50s, for instance. I expected the book to explore the nascent TV production industry in the 50s, the effect of  a new medium and how the people involved navigated it, and in some cases, how those decisions had influences that lasted till today. It was also a time when there were several women TV producers, and writers ( Madelyn Pugh being amongst the most well-known, of I love Lucy fame)-I expected the book to name-drop some of them and for them to be instrumental in ELizabeth's career but strangely enough, for a book that's so preachy about feminism, not a word about it, no even about Lucille Ball or Julia Child as an inspiration! The book also had some mixed messaging- ELizabeth exhorts women to not pull each other down, be constrained by stereotypes, go out and get what they wanted and so on, but it's not as easy as that-there are systemic issues for why women are still under-represented in the workforce and fields such as STEM. Garmus makes it seem like ELizabeth was the only feminist doing anything at all or trying to empower women, and it's all tell, and not show-I'm not sure someone shouting at me to do better when I'm already exhausted is going to motivate me. I'm not sure about the point of multiple tragic backstories for each other characters either-they all seem to exist only to help Elizabeth and none of the other characters are fully formed, or even properly developed in their own right, apart from given trauma in their past-that isn't sufficient as a character arc. The ending provided more eye-rolling opportunities, and I was only too glad it ended. SUch a disappointment-my rating went for 5 solid stars till the halfway mark, when it went so downhill that it's now barely a 1 star. If you want a book about the difficulties women face in the field of STEM, read 'Female innovators who changed the world' by Emma Shimizu. If you want a book about TV production and its nuances in the 50s, please read the excellent 'THeir own best creations: Women writers in Postwar Television by Annie Berke, compelling and so insightful. Skip this book!
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I couldn’t get into this book. Maybe if I tried another time I’d like it but in this occasion it wasn’t for me.
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#Zott4President! After finishing I'm already missing Elizabeth and Six-Thirty! A courageous, witty joy of a read laced with the frustration of what women have had to fight and still permeates our experience today. I love Zott's no-nonsense focus and the rational certainty of her inner voice. A stand-out feminist icon unwittingly rallying a community of over-looked women by refusing to be side-lined from the STEM career that runs deep through her DNA.
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