Cover Image: Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

It’s hard to know how to summarise this fresh and idiosyncratic novel but I really enjoyed it.
Elizabeth Zott is a scientist in the 1950s - a time when women were expected to be homemakers rather than high-flying professionals. 
Elizabeth finds unexpected success on a TV cookery show with a twist that inspires a generation of browbeaten American women.
There are some great characters in this book, not least Elizabeth’s daughter - the precocious and endearing Madeline - and her fiercely intelligent dog.
There is absurdity and humour but pathos as well in this story of the coming of age of feminism. 
Recommended. I’m positive this totally unique take on 1950s gender politics will go down a storm.
Was this review helpful?
Well , it took me a little while to get used to the writing style of this book, set in 1950's and 60's America, but once I got into it, I enjoyed this book very much. It is a love story with a difference, an unusual couple who go against the norms of the time and society and it is about women making a mark in the masculine based world of science and research  in that era. 
Elizabeth is a feisty character who is not easily put down, but floored at different times by her superiors (men) . I found some of these incidents quite shocking but they do give you food for thought and make you realize that lives and work conditions in these times have improved for women. 
All in all a great read which gives you lots to think about. Thank you to Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review
Was this review helpful?
I wasn't sure what to make of this story. It's unique, that's for sure and if you can suspend disbelief, then it's a great read with a wry sense of humour. the central character, Set in the 1950's, Elizabeth Zott is a feminist in an age when that isn't easily possible and you end up really rooting for her as she ploughs her way through the misogynist establishment, accompanied by her precocious daughter, Mad and incredibly intelligent dog, Six-Thirty. the book is chock full of great characters, both good and bad and the ending was just right.
Was this review helpful?
Stunning, addictive and totally fresh, Lessons in Chemistry and the characters within is a joy to read. I was completely invested in the characters and Elizabeth Zott’s fight for freedom, feminism and even cooking real food. One of those books you think about whenever you’re forced to stop reading and you can’t wait to get back to, I wish I could read it for the first time all over again.
Was this review helpful?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It’s a story of how a woman chemist came to be a TV cookery star, and what happened after she did.  

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, and whilst I am in no way a scientist, it didn’t matter.   The parts about chemistry were well explained and were important strands of the story.  

My favourite character was Six Thirty, the dog.  I thought this was an unusual use for an animal, but it was cleverly done and I liked it.  

This book certainly gave me food for thought, and is one that I will remember for some time.  Loved it.  


Thank you to NetGalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for the advance copy in exchange for this honest review
Was this review helpful?
This book is a triumph! It is such a very unusual story, like nothing I’ve ever read before, and is actually quite difficult to review, as it does not fit into any particular genre.
 Suffice to say that I am filled with admiration for the author of this spell- binding tale.  It is so beautifully written, with outstanding characterisation of all the main players, even the dog Six Thirty.
The more I think about it, the more I realise how clever and original this book is, and so very enjoyable. I did not want to put it down, just a really good read that drew me back to it at every opportunity. 
Do not miss the chance to experience this book, just read it for yourself.
 I will be watching for more from this brilliant author, for sure. 
My thanks to the publisher, author, and Netgalley for my advance copy of this title, I am sad to have come to the end of the book.
Was this review helpful?
The shit women have gone through, go through, and the fight to keep us moving everything forward for a fair and equal recognition in work and life to help change the world. 

Living a 1950’s life, Elizabeth Zott is everything the man’s “ideal” 1950’s woman is not, educated, in science, a chemist, career driven, and doesn’t want to marry nor have kids. She is not interested in the “norm” and is more than happy about it, in fact, even through the sexual assaults, lower salary, denial of her female status, denial of investor money in her research,  and male ego knocking her and other women down, it doesn’t phase her, she just keeps driving forward to be taken seriously and recognised as a woman chemist. Her research interest, Abiogenesis. 

Until, Calvin Evans, an esteemed chemist, the sought after man, well published, award winning, horrible childhood, not after the money (is has it thrown at him), but after a comfortable good weathered life, falls absolutely in love with Elizabeth and she with him. The difference to other relationships Elizabeth has experienced with men, Calvin has a deep and mutual respect for her as a woman, for her career, her  ambitions, and drive (though there is an element of backwards thinking when he wants to marry). But then, tragedy strikes. 

Career over, a baby in tow, what Elizabeth does to not lose her sense of self, with some harm done to her dignity and the hard work she has done to be taken seriously as a chemist put on the line, she becomes a TV cook to earn money. But, she teaches cookery as it is chemistry and through it empowers, encourages, and educates woman that they do not need to believe the “norm” and to change the status quo. Now, “Children, set the table….Your mother needs a moment to herself.” 


Read, read, read!
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book and found Elizabeth an amazing role model considering the time and place. She used kept calm and used logic which really frustrated the men in the book. It was very funny, especially the incident with mushrooms, as I had got mushrooms for tea on the day I read that incident. Six-Thirty was a genius character to introduce.
Was this review helpful?
This was a beautiful story of love, loss, growing up, being true to yourself and the level of a dog's understanding! I just loved Six thirty!

This is a beautiful story about Elizabeth Zott - a scientist, a feminist, a tv presenter, a mother and a lover - but despite these roles and her strength what grates is the different ways she is taken advantage of during the story because she is a women and an unmarried one at that.

I don't want to give too much of the story away in this review so I will keep it brief and say it is well written, thought provoking and I personally found it a gripping read - I enjoyed escaping into her world.
Was this review helpful?
What a unique original novel. I loved it! A wonderful feminist tour de force, told with humour. Such an original plot, I have never read anything like this, I would never pick up a book about chemistry, but cooking, why yes! Wonderful characters, I'm tempted to get a dog so I can call it 6.30. 
I will recommend this book to everyone
Fabulous!
Was this review helpful?
Absolutely gutted to have finished this! Bonnie has done an incredible job with this book and I’m pretty sure they are already looking to develop this into a full blown TV series! How exciting..

This book had me feeling all the emotions for Elizabeth, set between the 50’s-60’s in America, it shows just how much sexism, racism and inequality that women had to deal with.. and in some cases are still dealing with now. 

Elizabeth, Mad, 6:30 and Harriet, were all incredible characters and made the book everything that it was. Such a funny range of characters with incredibly good character development!

Genuinely could not put this book down, and cannot wait for the release date. 

Many thanks to Netgalley/Publisher/Author for an advanced copy of this book!
Was this review helpful?
Wow. This book was absolutely mind blowing to read. I was utterly enthralled by Elizabeth’s story. The tenacity and determination and fight she needed to survive each day and the impact she had on those around her was mind blowing. It was a very humbling read- I’m guilty of thinking the fact women were admitted to university etc meant things were moving in the right direction, but this story demonstrates how much inequality, abuse and entrenched sexism there was across American society in the 1960s. 
I devoured the book in record time because I was so invested in what happened to Mad, Elizabeth, Harriet and 6:30. All the characters were so realistic and I raved about the book to absolutely everyone while I was reading it! Have added Bonnie Garmus to my list of authors to follow- I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
Was this review helpful?
“Chemistry is change.”

Lessons in Chemistry is an absolute must-read. It is set in the period between 1950s and 1960s and follows the story of Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant scientist who finds herself single, pregnant and out of job. When an opportunity presents itself, Elizabeth takes an offer to host a cooking tv show — but, believe me, this short summary is just the tip of the iceberg.
I’ve heard they’re already developing Apple TV series but reading this book is pretty much like watching it play out on your mind screen. It is full of colour, humour, sadness, oddness, genius... chemistry. Bonnie Garmus has done an incredible job. I loved everything about this book: the characters (Elizabeth and Six-Thirty, and their bond in particular), the way the story’s told, the setting and plot twists. Six-Thirty stole the spotlight numerous times. I especially appreciate the role and the voice the author has given him. 
I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll end with this: Lessons in Chemistry deserves all the praise it gets. I can’t recommend it enough.
Was this review helpful?
I have never read a book like this before - it was funny, fresh and so full of joy. I was bereft when it was finished but will be looking out for more books by the author in the future.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this - in the main. Bonnie Garmus has written a funny, wise and original book about how women were expected to 'be' in the 1960s - and what happens when one woman, Elizabeth Zott, fights against the expected convention.

Zott is a successful, career-minded chemist - she is not interested in domestic life, having a family, getting married - but when she meets fellow, very successful chemist, Calvin Evans, things take a turn. Tragedy strikes - but Elizabeth ends up with 'Mad', her somewhat precocious and intelligent daughter, and becomes ones of the most talked-about women on TV in America.

Garmus has written a book which puts the woman at the fore, something that would have not been typical in the 1960s. The novel follows Zott's life, from learning to row, through to presenting 'Supper at Six'. It's funny; it's cringeworthy; it's certainly memorable. The characterisation is superb, particularly of Zott, Harriet Sloane, her neighbour, and the dreadful Mrs Mudford. Aside from this, and the reason I am holding back from 5*, I wasn't sure it was completely convincing of 1960s America - it just felt too current, at times, to be a realistic representation of the period. And... Six-Thirty, the family dog, although a key character... I am just not sure his viewpoint necessarily works. Yes, I can see how his role is important, considering what happens to Calvin, his master, but his contributions jar for me and often seem surplus to requirements.

'Lessons in Chemistry' is clever and will do well - as will the TV adaptation which I am very much looking forward to. Read and enjoy!
Was this review helpful?
Lessons in Chemistry was a book that left me conflicted - I spent a good 50% of the book infuriated at the Miranda Hart-esque omnipresent narrator's quips to the reader and the other 50% laughing out loud at them. 

I loved Six-Thirty, Harriet and Mad as characters, and the book became more enjoyable as it shifted the focus onto them.
Was this review helpful?
There's definitely a certain charm to this book,and that will get it far.
It also has some pretty memorable characters in it,not least the dog.
It was an interesting read,that captured the sexism of the era well.
Enjoyable.
Was this review helpful?
Without a doubt one of my favourite books this year. Elizabeth Zott is one of my favourite characters in a long time. Feminist icon!
I don’t want to say too much as I think this book is best read with no preconceptions or part spoilers as there is so much joy in just seeing where this story leads you.
We meet Elizabeth as a reluctant TV tea-time cookery star in the 1950s. But she’s actually a supremely talented chemist.  How and why she ended up there is to be revealed. 
My only negative is that I read this digitally, it’s not released for another 7 months and I want to share it with everyone!
Was this review helpful?
What a wonderful breath of fresh air book! The characters were unforgettable; chemist and cook, Elizabeth Zott and her daughter, Mad Zott; Six-Thirty, the dog that understood hundreds of words and the animal (human or dog) heart, Calvin Evans, who put rowing (and Elizabeth Zott) ahead of the Noble Prize, and a cast of many more misfits who become family. Laugh out loud funny, snigger funny, and GO ELIZABETH ZOTT spectacular. Definitely one of the best books I have read in the past year. It will be a massive hit. And will put a whole new spin on cooking supper.
Was this review helpful?
Such an incredible book! Witty, joyful, emotional, touching and inspiring. I was totally immersed from the second I picked it up and I didn’t want it to end because I loved the characters so much. Elizabeth Zott has taken her place as one of my favourite fictional characters, and Six-thirty is definitely my favourite fictional dog!
Was this review helpful?