Cover Image: Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Calvin and Elizabeth are scientists.  They each had an unhappy childhood.  When their paths cross, it is not with mutual respect, but when a chance meeting a short time later forces their hand, they get to know each other and love blossoms.

This book has comedy and tragedy.  It is very funny, but also very sad.  Elizabeth is a highly intelligent woman who is determined to overcome the 60’s prejudices and prove that a woman’s place does not have to be in the kitchen, or if it does it’s under her rules!  Although the ending was predictable, in no way did it spoil the plot, all finished off beautifully.

This is a good 4.5*, brilliant for a debut novel.

Thank you NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
"Children, set the table. Your mother needs a moment to herself."

This novel  is, in one word, phenomenal. A absolute dream debut novel for author Bonnie Garmus, Lessons in Chemistry is a must read for those who love strong female character led novels.

It's the 1960s, and Elizabeth Zott is a chemist, a TV chef, a single unmarried mother, and is determined not to let her gender get in the way of the work to be done. It is simply impossible not to immediately love Zott, a fiery woman who has no time for the patriarchal structures embedded in 1960s society. She is unashamedly herself, and through her weekly cooking show, "Supper at Six", she inspires a generation of women who have been ignored and overlooked by men, to commit to themselves and their own dreams, rather the roles handed to them by society.

I adored the characters in this novel, including the multitude of side characters who regularly stole the show, and I am incredibly upset to have finished reading and to leave their world behind me. The writing is fantastic, and I didn't lose interest for one second throughout the novel. It is fast paced, educational without being preachy, joyful, inspirational and above all, beautifully moving.
I would highly recommend this novel to anyone. I am also excited to train my own dog to be more like Six Thirty!!


Thanks to NetGalley and publisher Random House UK for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
For me, Lessons in Chemistry is the Goldilocks zone fiction debut. Much like Eleanor Oliphant it has something to appeal to many readers depending on what you love about reading fiction. There’s plenty of plot to keep you turning pages; the characters are memorable and intriguing; and the writing has that special way of articulating something you’ve felt but couldn’t put into words, so perfectly that you’ll end up with highlights all over the pages.
Secondly, it has the rare and exceptional blend of being joyful, funny and uplifting whilst also being clever and important. It’s unashamedly feminist but it’s not heavy. It tackles some serious subjects but it’s not bleak. It’s a bit quirky without being twee. I’ve already ordered it for multiple people and I can’t wait to talk about it with everyone!
Was this review helpful?
Oh my! I LOVED this book. It was quirky, funny, heartbreaking, challenging, warm and so engaging. It was a story of equality, family, love, loss and being unapologetically oneself. I really didn’t want it to end - highly, highly recommended!
Was this review helpful?
I wish Elizabeth Zott was real so that I could watch her scientific cooking show.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is set in 1960s America and and the world around chemist Zott tells her that her place is officially in the home or at most only supporting the work of a man. Zott though is fiercely intelligent and has the same approach to honesty as Sheldon Cooper. This causes friction in the male dominated world, but Zott refuses to dumb down for anybody.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and I can see why the publisher, who gifted me access, is so excited about it. This book will appeal to a wide audience and I predict that this is going to soon become a readers favourite once it is published in April.  I think it would be a nice one for book clubs, and certainly one that Richard and Judy should be considering.  

If you like an intelligent but easy read book with a fantastic strong female lead then this is one to add to your tbr.
Was this review helpful?
I dare you not to fall in love with the richly drawn main character. She's an icon ahead of her time, a powerhouse of new thought and ideas and I loved this novel. I want to watch the tv show she developed into her own soundbox and I want a dog like hers to keep a look out for me too. So many fantastic scenes, so many wrongs that take decades to put right all set in an unusual location with a beautiful thread of chemistry setting the scene I am now interested in chemistry and I now let the butter foam in the pan so it evaporates the water content.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 Stars

This book follows the story of Elizabeth Zott, a woman navigating the struggles of being a female in the 1950s/60s trying to be taken seriously as a scientist.

I loved the author’s writing style and presentation of the characters, particularly Elizabeth’s dog Six-Thirty! Some scenes are presented from his point of view, and he regularly commentates on human’s stupidity and feelings which is a great perspective. You really feel Elizabeth's frustration trying to be taken seriously as a chemist, and anger at the male scientists’ obvious sexism discrediting her and even stealing her work.

I gave the book 3.5 stars because I did find myself losing focus in places and not being fully immersed, but I easily pushed through and couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the characters next. Perhaps it was a bit faster paced or shorter I would have enjoyed it more.
Was this review helpful?
Brilliantly entertaining.

This is a book that although written in the past, is definitely still for the modern ages.

Taking a look at gender equality (with a brilliant bunch of science thrown in), Garmus has written a story that is both funny and meaningful.

I absolutely adore Elizabeth and Mad.

A mother daughter duo like no other. They had me laughing away with their matter of fact way of speaking and no nonsense approach to life.

Witty and charming, Lessons in Chemistry was a pure joy to read.
Was this review helpful?
A great read, really gave you a sense of place.
Loved the dog - six thirty was a brilliant character.
Was this review helpful?
Reading on my Kindle, at just 9% of the way through, I already decided I didn’t want this story to end.  And what a story!

Elizabeth Zott, an extremely clever, gifted chemist, is determinedly pursuing a career in science, despite her difficult upbringing with nightmare parents, and despite encountering the uncompromising sexism of the 1950s and 1960s.  I was rooting for her every step of the way as she fought to have her work taken seriously and acknowledged.  I was frustrated and infuriated at the obstacles and injustices she faced, rejoiced when she found her soulmate in Calvin Evans, cheered her on when she found success in an unexpected (and unwanted) career in TV, cleverly using her airtime to encourage her audience to appreciate the significance of what they do, recognise their own worth and dare to strive for their dreams.  I feared for her when once again she faced spiteful opposition, and admired her unwavering steadfastness and commitment to what she felt/knew was right, come what may.

We know from the beginning that Elizabeth is a single mother of a young daughter, Mad (Madeline); we just have to bide our time a little until we discover the circumstances which brought this about.  As we might expect from her character, her style of parenting is unique; I particularly loved the little notes she left in Mad’s lunchbox.

Elizabeth is a very serious-minded person, and there is much to be serious about in her story, but it is told with a seam of humour running right through.  The account of how Mad gets her name is just gorgeous!

Although the book is written in the third person, the characters’ own voices are expressed in such a way that it feels like first person writing – we’re right there inside their minds.  I especially loved how the dog’s viewpoint is given in just the same way as the humans’.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with Elizabeth and will definitely keep an eye out for more books by Bonnie Garmus.
Was this review helpful?
In 'Lessons in Chemistry' Bonnie Garmus takes us to 1960’s America  as we join the staff at Hastings Research Institute. We meet Elizabeth Zott and learn of the strife and resilience of women in the workplace as she forges ahead with her scientific ambitions despite the best efforts of some (though not all) to thwart them. Offering insights into chemistry and social history, Lessons in Chemistry is by turns comic and tragic. The cast of characters is quirky and the plot well rounded and satisfying. This is an ultimately uplifting read and I would wholeheartedly recommend it.
Was this review helpful?
Elizabeth Zott is a single mother in 1960's America. By accident she becomes the host of a daytime cookery show. Using her background knowledge as a chemist as part of her cookery demonstrations, Elizabeth offers a wake-up call to thousands of under appreciated housewives.

Elizabeth Zott is a wonderful character; beautiful, intelligent, outspoken and refuses to conform to societal norms. Unfortunately Elizabeth lives in 1950's/1960's America where the role of women is to run the home. Throughout the novel Zott refuses to conform to cultural stereotypes and despite repeated set-backs she is determined to succeed.

The novel deals with a number of difficult topics, women's role in society, homosexuality, unmarried mothers, sexual harassment and domestic violence to name a few. At times you are screaming because of the way in which society dealt with those issues at the time and then you are questioning how far we've actually progressed in 60 years.

We meet a wide range of characters, some who enhance Elizabeth's life and some who relish the chance to undermine her. In most cases karma is waiting in the wings to deal with each character as they deserve. The way that the characters are introduced over time and then revisited, along with the quirkiness of having asides from a dog, is reminiscent of early John Irving. 

Although the story is set in 1950's and 1960's it offers a very modern message, we need more "people who refuse to accept the status quo, who aren't afraid to take on the unacceptable". I predict this book will be a massive hit and it doesn't surprise me that it's been picked up by Apple TV to become a series.
Was this review helpful?
Wow, what a fabulous book! I loved every word. 
It’s fabulously quirky and unique and the characters are intriguing. 
I had a huge emotional attachment to this book which is very rare. I laughed, sobbed and just loved it. 
It’s one that I’ll recommend many times over and a book I’ll definitely come back to again. It will stay with me for a long time and although only January, I know it will be one of my favourite reads this year.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed Lessons in Chemistry.
Set in the 1950’s when a woman’s place was in the kitchen not the science lab! 
But not Elizabeth Zott. 
She’s developing theories in a chemistry lab even converting her kitchen into a lab at home and taking on rowing as a hobby (with a men’s team no less). 
As you can expect, her genius isn’t appreciated by those (men and unfortunately women) around her who don’t like being upstaged. 
Who does she think she is?
At times, Lessons in Chemistry reminded me of Mad Men – the misogyny, sexism and attitudes towards women. 
Despite the very serious themes (sexual abuse, death, sexism, misogyny) there’s many light-hearted and funny moments. 

Lessons in Chemistry is about much more than a love story, there’s heartbreak and humour, determination and friendship to name but a few. 
Our main character is a woman with a huge passion for science who feels that she shouldn’t have to suffer missed opportunities because she’s female. 
I absolutely loved Elizabeth’s dedication and absorption into her profession as a chemist. It was such a pleasure to be drawn into her unique views and sureness of direction. 
She suffers many hardships and knockbacks but keeps getting back on her feet and setting an example for her daughter.
I wish I could watch her TV show it sounded brilliant! 
The relationship that she builds with her neighbour and her producer despite her best efforts not to in the first instance is really quite wonderful. 
I also really loved Six-Thirty and getting his perspective on things – what a clever dog! 
If confident, supremely intelligent women protagonists interest you as they do me, then I would absolutely encourage you to read this.
Was this review helpful?
Okay I'm not a fan of historical books, but the fact this was about a single woman in the 60 that ended up being the star of a cooking schow thta incorporated chemistry, I was all for it! I really loved this book, there aren't enough words to describe of praise this amazing woman who began a revolution with a cooking show.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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. ⁣
⁣
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. ⁣
⁣
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.  ⁣
⁣
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?