Cover Image: Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry

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Member Reviews

What a brilliant novel. I couldn't stop reading it, resulting in some late starts, long lunches and late nights. The concept is so simple, but the characters are drawn so well and the core of it so heartbreaking there's no stopping till you reach the end. 
I say the concept is simple, and when you break it down, it is, but Gamus takes every opportunity to add a twist, to throw in moments of shock, even of horror, and of dark humour that it's like watching a tapestry come together; following the threads and watching them slowly twist together to make a complete whole.
This is one to share with friends, they will thank you for it.
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There is so much to say about this book, there's so much going on. Dark and brilliantly funny. Insightful and full of situation comedy. I've chosen to include it in my newspaper column so more to come.
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Elizabeth Zott is not your typical protagonist, but this didn’t stop me from becoming caught up in the story.  I felt a whole range of emotions whilst reading this – happiness, sadness, anger and hope.  Most of all it made me feel grateful that I live in the 21st century and not the 1960’s.   It captured the feel of the time for when the world was a very different place for women, though particularly in the workplace.   It reminded me that whilst things are still not perfect and that gender equality still exists, it’s a far cry from how it was back then.  
The characters are interesting, if not always likeable.  Although that is part of what made it feel plausible, as people aren’t likeable all the time.  It explores a whole variety of relationships – romantic, family, friendship and workplace.  
The author had a style of writing that drew me in from the beginning, fabulous!
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Meet Elizabeth Zott, my new favourite female character.  Set in California in the 1960s, 𝘓𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘊𝘩𝘦𝘮𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘺 is Bonnie Garmus’s debut novel and Elizabeth Zott is the undisputed star of the show.  ⁣
⁣Elizabeth is a brilliant chemist. She works in the Hastings Institute where she is undervalued as a scientist and expected to make coffee and do the filing. The serious work of science is left to the men. It’s here she meets Calvin Evans, a Nobel Prize nominee, an introvert, a grudge holder and talented rower. Their worlds literally collide. ⁣
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Through a combination of events, after losing her job, Elizabeth starts hosting a cookery-cum-chemistry tv show called 𝘚𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘳 𝘈𝘵 𝘚𝘪𝘹, where Elizabeth dishes up practical life advice to her female audience, as well as ideas for dinner.  It is a huge success. Elizabeth (“𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯”) tells her audience that when women understand chemistry, they begin to understand how things work and how imbalanced society is. She encourages women to recommit to changing their lives and to challenge the status quo. ⁣
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This was a joyful, funny, clever, inspiring novel and I devoured it. It’s a perfect depiction of the blatant discrimination and sexism that women faced in the 1960s. Women were un-represented in science⁣ and their research work was often misappropriated by male colleagues. The novel is full of engaging characters, such as Madeline, her precocious daughter who could read William Faulkner at 5 and a fabulous dog called Six Thirty, who understood 981 words and whom I adored.  ⁣
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I adored the original, witty style of writing and Elizabeth in particular. I loved her quirky character and her no-nonsense approach to dealing with the men and obstacles in her life. I loved how she took on the patriarchy and challenged the social norms of the time. Treat yourself, read this book & then come back & share the love! A fantastic debut. ⁣
All the stars 5⭐️⁣
⁣
With thanks to @netgalley & @penguinrandomhouse for the ARC in return for my review.
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The description and title of this book do not really do it justice.  I will keep this short and simple.  You just HAVE to read this book – it’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and when you get to the end you will be so disappointed that it’s finished.  Absolutely first class.  What a truly brilliant author.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me to read this unbelievably wonderful story.
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Elizabeth Zott has struggled against sexism all her life, she is a brilliant chemist but everyone from her college lecturers to her colleagues at Hastings Research Institute seem to think she's more interested in snagging a husband than cutting-edge chemistry research. As the only woman in the team she is expected to make the coffees, bring equipment to the male scientists and clear up after them, despite being more intelligent and having more insightful research. The only exception is the equally gifted enfant terrible Calvin Evans, Hastings' Noble prize winning chemist, all the other chemists hate him but the two of them fall in love.

Fast forward a few years and Elizabeth is a single mother to an equally gifted daughter, unable to get a job as a research chemist at Hastings, she has somehow been offered a job presenting a daytime cookery show for housewives, but Elizabeth refuses to kowtow to the network's sexist ideas about how she should look, how the set should look, or even what she should say. She's teaching cookery as chemistry.

See that describes the book, and yet it doesn't. There's a whole tragic, almost French farce surrounding Calvin's past which the reader guesses at, but could have changed his whole life if things had gone differently. The style sort of reminded of The World According to Garp, maybe it's just because I rarely read a book written entirely from the view of a third party narrator, but it also had that slightly surreal element to it, especially when we hear Elizabeth's dog's thoughts.

Kooky and quirky don't really hit the mark. I wouldn't say it was loud-out-loud funny, more mildly amusing with a dark underbelly. All of the main characters have something terrible happen(ing) in their lives. Most of the ancillary male characters are just plain awful, and the women aren't much better.

It was slow to start and the unemotional delivery took some getting used to, yet, by the end, I really enjoyed it. Very different.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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This is a quirky book but one that I took to immediately. Elizabeth Zott is a feminist from the word go and in 1960's male dominated society she is a force to be reckoned with. All her life issues are solved logically with her chemist roots at its heart. I have already recommended it to my book group.
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House UK for the advance copy.
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This is such an engaging and wonderful read.  Elizabeth Zott is a brilliant chemist, but this is the 1960s and she’s expected to assist in the lab, helping the men until she becomes a wife and homemaker.  She refuses to consider those possibilities and encounters sexism and misogyny in her struggle to have her work taken seriously.  She meets her match in Calvin Evans, a scientist who works in her department.  Despite being in love, she continues to flout societal expectations, refusing to take a back seat to any man. 
With her dog, Six-thirty, and her daughter, Mad, and neighbour, Harriet, our heroine confronts sexism, misogyny, and grief and starts a new career as a presenter of a TV cookery show, bringing chemistry to food preparation and enthusing a whole generation of women with a love of science.
This book is funny, moving and unputdownable.   I loved it.
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Elizabeth Zott is a brilliant chemist, but it's the 1960s and she's constantly under-estimated. Women in chemistry departments are there to be secretaries, to be patronised, hit on and dismissed as unworthy - or grateful to be noticed at all. Then Calvin Evans notices her after she helps herself to beakers in his lab, and they're a brilliant match. It's not a romance though, it's a story of a brilliant woman over-coming sexism and other issues to be herself, and it's also very funny.

Elizabeth ends up a single mother with a TV cooking show - except she's not just talking about food. She's talking about chemistry and the opportunities women have, encouraging them to take time for themselves (shout out for Marjorie, off to pre-med school), to think in different ways. And she's gone from a lone woman with no friends, to having a support network, including the dog, Six-Thirty - who may be one of my favourite characters. Elizabeth's daughter Mad is a great character as well, the product of two brilliant parents who helps to bring about the ending. The ending did feel a little too neat, but the book was a joy to read.
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Wonderfully quirky. Took me back in time with a love story set back in the days when women were definitely second class citizens. Elizabeth Zott is a great character but Mad and Six-Thirty stole my heart! Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, the only disappointment was when I finished the last page.
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Just wow - where do I even start to explain how good this book is?  

Elizabeth Zott is a chemist and an unmarried mother living in the 1960’s. 

When she loses her job and becomes a reluctant television star by accident, she shares her feminist views with her audience of housewives. Honest and straight talking, funny without even realising it - what an amazing character Bonnie Garmus has created. I laughed and cried in equal measures as she brought Elizabeth to life with words.

I absolutely loved this book, as it explored the sexist and racist attitudes of the times and how Elizabeth tried to change people’s perceptions and outlook through her programme ‘Supper at Six’.

The author also introduces us to a cast of fabulous characters, including her lover Calvin, neighbour Harriet, her daughter Mad, her producer Walter Pine and her highly intelligent dog, Six-Thirty.

This is definitely going to be a best seller and I’ve already recommended it to many.

With many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this arc in exchange for an honest review.
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A brilliant concept lies at the heart of this book and the best scenes by far are when Elizabeth is recording her cooking/chemistry show. I loved the characters and thought the tone was light and fun throughout. It does take quite a while to get into as too much attention is given to the rather melodramatic backstory but overall it’s an enjoyable read.
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Protagonist Elizabeth Zott is straight-talking and determined to tell the truth at any cost. She fights to educate her ‘Supper at Six’ viewers, not only in cooking and chemistry, but also in life; empowering them to look at society around them, identify inequality, and demand change. Her allies come in the forms of men and women, adults and children, and even Six-Thirty her dog. She constantly battles adversity throughout the book to make an impact against a misogynistic society and does not hold back when challenged. The book is written in a very matter-of-fact style, which is enriched by the quirkiness and vulnerability of its characters. Lessons in Chemistry is a heart-warming Feminist tale full of hope.
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Very unexpected book choice for me based mostly on the cover but it's what's inside that made it one of the best books I've read. It was so different but so thought provoking, it will stay with me for a long time. Elizabeth, exceptional woman, living in 60s when being a woman of her own mind, isn't exactly favourable has become one of my favourite characters of all time. This book was so sad and so infuriating but made me laugh at times and I can say, it just had everything!
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Elizabeth Zott is a force to be reckoned with in 1960s America, determined to succeed in the male dominated science world, and everywhere else! Funny and inspiring, I enjoyed every bit of this book.
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This was a surprising, funny and heartfelt story. I’m so glad I got to read it! Elizabeth Zott is a person that doesn’t fit in, she can’t be put into any stereotypical box and won’t behave as women are expected to…and because of that, she’s awesome. She is a scientist in the 1960’s, dealing with examples of misogyny and bullying that are still so tiresomely familiar today. As you can imagine, this takes its toll on her mentally but she keeps trying to move forward in her own ways. Her life throws her a number of curveballs too, but it also gives her Mad (her daughter) and Six-Thirty (her dog) to help her through it all and they are both great partners to have by your side. She is also befriended by her neighbour, Harriet, and they build a relationship that is nourishing for each of them for very different reasons. 
The writing was so engaging, I found that I couldn’t stop reading. There are laugh-out-loud lines, mostly from Six-Thirty who is probably my favourite character, sitting right beside heartbreaking moments that burrow deep inside you. It’s quirky but not in a novelty way - more in the way that real life is often bizarre. It tells a love story in a very practical, but still hugely emotional and relatable, way.
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Brilliant! An original and refreshing novel, that introduces a fabulous character in Elizabeth Zott. I flew through this book, eating up every page and cheering on the characters. A true feminist novel with a truly awe inspiring heroine. Whilst fictional I'm quite sure it's not an unusual story for its time and it is women like Elizabeth Zott who paved the way for modern women to step out from their kitchens and take their place in the wider world, though we still have a long way to go for true equality. I would recommend this book to anyone, it is a joy to read and you will carry the characters with you for a long time.
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Wonderfully written story of someone whose strength and intelligence would be obvious to everyone in a rational world. However, it's set in 1950s USA, and the protagonist is a female scientist, so a) her occupation marks her as "odd", and b) the zeitgeist fosters the view that she can't really be as good as the men. She's also a single, unmarried mother, raising a precocious and wonderful child.

Although there is a tendency to discount the prejudices as typical of their time, I couldn't help feeling as I got further into the book, that, if I were to be subjected to such discrimination, it would feel like a terrible psychic brutality. Imagine having your entire existence discounted because of biological aspects that should have no bearing on how others see your competence. 

It's an awful burden to bear, but, luckily for the reader, Elizabeth Zott somehow manages to retain her integrity in the face of a world that can't even see it, and her struggles become a glorious celebration of the free human spirit. 

There is something tremendously lovable and human (as human SHOULD be) in every character she draws to her side - even the dog ( who also fights for recognition - he's a great dog). Uplifting is too weak a word for this joyous celebration of a human spirit heading into combat with an adversary establishment.

Thank you, Bonnie Garmus, for a splendid literary creation and for lighting yet another candle in the hopefully -thinning darkness. This is a book full of humour, soul, and life. ( and I felt every emotion from rage to spreading it). Very highly recommended.
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What a great book. Elizabeth Zott is a great character - a feminist in every sense of the word. I loved her actions, reactions and her attempts at beating the patriarchs. Read it and get to know Elizabeth Zott. And Six-Thirty, he's really special With thanks to NetGalley, the publishers and the author for an e-ARC of this title to read and review.
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It's 1961 and Elizabeth Zott has just started work as a presenter of a TV cookery show. She bitterly resents this as she is a chemist, thwarted by the institutional sexism and misogyny of the time. It's depressing to think that we're still fighting some of the same battles. Hands up those women who have had a male colleague plagiarise or steal their work or who have had to fight off unwanted sexual approaches or who were denied opportunities in education or at work because of their sex.. Zott is firmly on your side. She is a single parent with a brilliant daughter Madeleine whose intelligent questions are too much for her teacher. We travel back ten years to when Elizabeth met her soulmate, Owen Calvert, a brilliant young scientist on track to win a Nobel Prize. The story of their relationship follows along wth the circumstances which lead Elizabeth to lose her job. But Elizabeth is resourceful and determined and she fights to be taken seriously and in doing so ends up having a profound effect on the lives of other women.  

I haven't done justice to the book in this brief resume as it makes the book sound rather dull and it is anything but. Zott is a fantastic character who will live on in your mind along with her fantastic dog, Six-Thirty.  I absolutely loved this book. I've read and reviewed well over a hundred books this year and this is my favourite. I'll be recommending it to everyone I meet and can't wait to buy it when it comes out.  A massive thank you to Penguin Books and NetGalley for the ARC.
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