Cover Image: Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry

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Member Reviews

A great debut novel.

Set in 1950s/60s America, Elizabeth Zott is a talented chemist at a time when societal norms dictate that a woman's role is to be at home in the kitchen. Even worse, she has an opinion. She stands against the misogyny and discrimination, but instead of receiving recognition for her scientific discoveries, she is assaulted, ostracised, plagiarised and fired.

Amidst all this, Elizabeth meets Nobel prize nominated chemist, Calvin Evans and they fall deeply in love. This just causes even more problems with people thinking she is passing off his work as her own. 

Elizabeth becomes an unlikely and unwilling host of an afternoon cookery program. She stays true to her principles and uses the opportunity to teach women not just the science behind how to make delicious meals, but to stop accepting the status quo and demand more.
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"Positive, happy and upbeat" - that's not Elizabeth Zoff. Instead, the single mother scientist's passion for her research and dogged determination to be true to herself in the man's world of the 50s and 60s is what defines her, and makes her one of the most interesting characters in fiction that I've come across. 
Struck by tragedy more than once in her 30 years, abused and ridiculed by her male peers and struggling to make a living for herself and her daughter, Elizabeth accepts a job as a TV cook, presenting "Supper At Six". True to her principles, she uses this opportunity to delivery chemistry lessons to the nation's housewives, who are hooked by this serious and uncompromising woman who is all too often the first person to take them seriously and make them believe in themselves and their talents.
The central theme of feminism in this story is served up with so many strong threads as the writer explores the family tragedies of the two main characters, Elizabeth and her fellow scientist and soulmate Calvin; male abuse of women in the workplace and at home; and the importance of discovering your true self. 
But with friendship and laughter and a beautiful love story right at its heart, it's not at all depressing.
The writing is witty and wry, and the characters are joyous - especially Madeline, Elizabeth's very precocious small daughter, and their dog Six-Thirty, who plays a central role in the story.
I thought the title of this book was so clever - amidst the real chemistry lessons Elizabeth delivers up to her eager audience, the narrative explores the chemistry of interaction between people, the past and their future, without ever labouring the point.
A brilliant read which I'd recommend to anyone.
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This is an amazing debut novel. This is a story that I wanted to take my time to read and appreciate.

Elizabeth is a wonderful character, fighting against sexism, inequality and the societal norms of 1950s and 60s America.

In fact all the characters are so well written they jump off the page. 

A book well worth all the hype it’s receiving. 

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my review.   I have since been out and bought a copy of this too.
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Wow wow wow
What a perfect and brilliant debut, right from the start the characters came to life, the plot paced perfectly. This book was faultless. I will use extracts from the book in the classroom to demonstrate how to create pure beauty on the page
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After several colleagues enthused about this one, I decided that I should join the party and it was definitely a case of better late than never.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and confess to being totally obsessed with all things Zott!  Elizabeth Zott is, first and foremost a chemist and scientist.  She is also a mother, friend, lover and tv cooking programme host.  Forthright, outspoken and, at times, shunned and ridiculed, Zott uses her tv show to encourage and champion the rights of the stay at home woman to ask for more - and to deserve more.  There is an amazing cast of supporting characters, including Six-Thirty who is quickly becoming everyone’s favourite literary dog.

Full of vim and vigour, wit and warmth, this debut packs a subversive punch and introduces questions of a woman’s right to a career, to education, respect and equal pay.  Elizabeth Zott, I unashamedly declare myself a fan!
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I normally approach very hyped books with trepidation - if I go in with too much expectation, I tend to be quickly disappointed. Not so with Lessons in Chemistry. Here is a debut novel that definitely lives up to the hype. It’s a brilliantly constructed novel with an original story and well drawn characters. The dialogue, pace and plotting all felt like they came from an author on their 3rd or 4th novel, not their first. 

I’ll admit that through the first quarter I was unsure where it was going but when the big plot moment happened, even though it was not unsurprising it was so well done that it came as a genuine shock, an emotional rupture that really stays with the reader through the rest of the novel. I was gripped from that point on, and read to the end in a day or so. For me, the only slight disappointment came at the end, which felt a bit rushed, with all the loose ends tidied up a tad too quickly. But I’d enjoyed the novel so much by that point, that I could easily forgive that - and the story’s conclusion was certainly satisfying. This will be one I’ll  be recommending to colleagues, friends and family. Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the arc.
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Lessons in Chemistry is a book that I was desperate to get my hands on, and it did not disappoint. I’m grateful to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this before publication, and I will be buying my own copy as this was a book that deserves rereading.
Our setting is California in the 1960s. The prevalent view of the time was that a woman’s role was in the home and that her job was to support her man. Thankfully, not everyone subscribed to this view. Some pushed against it, determined to be seen for their own worth. Elizabeth Zott is one of those characters.
Zott is a chemist. She is not able to complete her studies after being raped. Determined to pursue her interests she finds herself a job in Hastings laboratory. While many patronise her and treat her as a glorified secretary, Zott has a passion and is keen to pursue it - knowing full well that she is cleverer than so many of the men who hold her back. Unconventional, nobody quite knows what to do with Zott.
Another brilliant mind that people cannot contain is Calvin Evans. As a man, he gets more opportunities and yet after a run-in with Zott we see the development of something very entertaining. Their relationship flouts conventions, but few can deny their chemistry.
After a tragic accident Zott finds herself alone, unmarried and pregnant. 
Nothing about Zott and her life follows the expected trajectory. While this is hugely entertaining to read, it is hard to ignore just how unlikely a character such as Zott would have been. 
When she finds herself fronting a successful cookery show she is not an immediate hit. The backers hate her. Men are threatened by her. Yet, slowly but surely, Zott finds herself at the helm of a massive hit…challenging the status quo. 
Zott herself is a brusque character, forthright and yet gauche in ways that don’t always make sense. The cast of supporting characters help make this book - each illuminating some element of Zott and her outlook. Whether it’s her neighbour Harriet dispensing her gem of wisdom in the early days of motherhood or her dog Six-Thirty who offers a very unusual perspective on events, the characters surrounding Zott help her to shine.
There will be elements to this book that will irritate readers. Not everything works, but this was a bold and brave book that I can’t wait to see how people respond to.
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I probably can't write a review as well as the hundreds of glowing reviews I have already seen, so will just say thank you for the opportunity to read and may we all have a Six Thirty!
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Well, what can I say? I loved this book so SO much. The deft, delicious writing style, the absolute originality of the characters, the unexpected twists and turns of the plot and the neatly intricate connections made as we continue through the story….all these aspects combine to make Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus one of my all time favourite reads. An unadulterated delight, just perfect.
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I started reading “Lessons in Chemistry” before it was published and while reading, I had several emails from various book sellers promoting and heaping praise on it. I have to say, the praise is entirely justifiable. It was an absolute joy to read and I would recommend it to anyone.

It tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, a scientist living and working in the mid twentieth century. As a woman working in science at that time, I’m sure readers can imagine the challenges she faced. And these challenges are increased not only by her having an unusual personality but also by her being a single mother. The story tells how she traverses life, with all of its loves and losses, while remaining true to herself.

The book really is a wonder. It expertly demonstrates the challenges that women faced while showing how far we have come since that time in terms of equality but, sadly, how far we still have to go.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book.
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What a fantastic read! I knew Lessons in Chemistry was set in 1960s America and had a feminist lead character, but I wasn't ready for the force of nature that is Elizabeth Zott! 

This is the story of her life - from falling in love to single motherhood and then effortlessly weaves in her daughter's perspective too, when she decides to find out more about her family history. I loved all the plotlines and how they wove together.

Interesting, clever, funny and emotive - what more do you want from a novel? I loved Bonnie Garmus' tone and will definitely have my eyes open for her next book.
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 🍽️ Which fictional characters would you love to have Sunday lunch with? For me it's the fabulous bunch at the heart of this triumphant tale!⠀
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Disclaimer: A huge thanks to Doubleday Books for sending me this title for an honest & unbiased review.
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Elizabeth Zott, what a character, such chemistry! Loved this novel and her protagonist, and the feminist backdrop it uses without falling into clichés of the genre.
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This book is just wonderful-I was sorry to finish it.The character of Elizabeth Zott will stay with me for a long time.She’s fabulous for so many reasons.
It’s set in early 60s California ,when women were expected to be homemakers and to do as they were told.When Elizabeth,a brilliant chemist ,becomes the star of a TV cookery show,the producers don’t quite get what they were expecting, as she spreads her message that women can do everything men can ,and a lot more besides.
The book has so much to say about the treatment of women , particularly in the world of science ,when so many of their achievements have been overshadowed or ignored by their male counterparts.However,it’s also a great story with memorable characters, including a dog who’s almost human.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough-I loved it.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC in return for an honest review which reflects my own opinion.
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In short: I could not recommend this book enough.

In full: Bonnie Garmus' debut novel Lessons in Chemistry is like no other book I have read before. Elizabeth Zott is a brilliantly opinionated female protagonist and a great role model. As a chemist-turned-TV-show-host, Elizabeth inspires women across America with her novel yet no-nonsense approach to cooking. However, not everyone is impressed.
Nevertheless, Elizabeth is not the only character worthy of praise - Six-Thirty, Harriet Sloane, and Reverend Wakely also stand out. This book is packed full of humorous lines and emotional moments; tackling misogyny and sexual assault, amongst other themes. If I could climb inside this novel I would and I won't rest until all my friends have read Lessons in Chemistry.
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Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

In 1960s America, Elizabeth Zott is discriminated against continually as a female scientist.  She finds happiness with Calvin Evans, a very eminent scientist with a tragic past, but a series of events leads to Elizabeth living a very different life to the one she had hoped for.

WOW, WOW, WOWWWW..... this book is AMAZING!  It's immediately gone on to my best books ever list - fantastic story, wonderful characters... prepare to fall in love with Elizabeth!  Very highly recommended - READ IT NOW!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book.
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An unusual read and an unlikely heroine. Elizabeth Zott is a female scientist in 1950s/60s America. Everything is a struggle - especially to be taken seriously. When she meets well respected scientist Calvin Evans in the lab and they fall in love, life is no less controversial and unconventional. Unexpectedly finding herself a single mother changes Elizabeth's life. Some of the humour in the book, such as converting the kitchen, is sad too, as she shouldn't have to give up her work, or deny who she is, because of her sex. She finds support in unexpected places, and the wonderful SixThirty is such a character. When Elizabeth combines chemistry with cooking and educates the nation she becomes a much loved character. But she recognises this can't be her life. With a wonderful cast of backing characters including her daughter, Mad, (the story of her name is priceless), neighbour Harriet, Walter Pine, Rev Wakely, Miss Frask and Dr Mason, the story of Elizabeth Zott is a wonderful one. #netgalley #lessonsinchemistry
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I adore this book! Elizabeth Zott is a superb character who will find her way into your heart. 

Elizabeth Zott is a chemist and doesn’t understand why the fact she is a woman should hinder this! Zott is not prepared to stand by while 1960s values tell her how to behave. 

Elizabeth’s story is full of heartache and sadness, yet it is also full of joy, friendship and change. 

Elizabeth steals the show but every other character in the book is also fabulously written, some you will love, some your will hate and some move from one category to the other. 

This book will be perfect for lovers of Eleanor oliphant and the Rosie project. Quirky, easy to read and poignant. Read it now!!
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We like to think we've come a long way since the 60s but have we? In terms of gender politics, we probably haven't moved on as far as we think.  Yes, women have more opportunities with regards to the workplace and education. However, it's still not a great time to be a woman. Especially an opinionated woman. Instead of being celebrated for her self-confidence, an assertive woman is still regularly shot-down. She is bitchy or over-emotional rather than authoritative.

Elizabeth Zott is an opinionated woman. She knows what she wants and will do whatever it takes to get it. Unfortunately, what she wants is to be a chemist in 1960s America. That's no mean feat even before you take into account her tenacity. Which is one of the reasons why Elizabeth Zott has ended up hosting an afternoon cooking show. Admittedly, a cooking show that feels more like a science show but a cooking show nonetheless. A very popular cooking show. As well as teaching them how to cook, Elizabeth is giving housewives across America the confidence they need to change their lives. Of course, not everyone is happy about that.

Although I was absolutely ecstatic about that. I absolutely adored this book from the very beginning. It not only captures the era but it's a feminist book that doesn't reply on tired dystopian tropes to get its message across. Instead, it presents several themes that are just as relevant today as they ever were and uses the historical setting to show how outdated they are. That's not to say this is a preachy book. Everything is handled so carefully and there is plenty of fun here. Elizabeth might be a serious woman but she is also very funny. I loved spending time with her.

And it's not just Elizabeth. I'm normally a bit iffy on multiple perspective novels but this pulls it off in such an effortless way. The narrative changes perspective between different characters not only between chapters but in the middle of them. It has the feel of a film or television series. Events are retold from different characters' viewpoints so that the full story builds up slowly. The mystery is allowed to unravel before our eyes without seeming as though Bonnie Garmus is dragging it out. It's incredible. And there's so many layers to this story.

Before her television work, Elizabeth had a job in a lab. She never really fit in and her coworkers tended to find her odd, irritating and cold. They don't believe she is has any talent as a scientist and assume she slept her way into the job. It doesn't matter that Elizabeth is brilliant at her job and puts many of her male colleagues to shame, she is always undermined by the men around her. Until she meets Calvin Evans. Evans is another brilliant scientist who, like Elizabeth, doesn't have many fans at work. After a rocky start the pair fall in love. Unfortunately, life doesn't always have a happy ending and Elizabeth finds herself an unwed, single mother.

This is when the novel becomes part mystery novel. Elizabeth's daughter sets out to find more about her family. She looks to uncover what she can about Calvin but her mother doesn't have much information herself. As the novel goes on, the different storylines all converge to bring about a highly satisfying ending. I don't normally cry at books but I was weeping tears of joy by the end. Considering I'd spent so much of the novel full of rage by the very realistic displays of misogyny, it was a lovely way to finish. <em>Lessons in Chemistry</em> is a heartwarming, funny, sad, clever, original novel. The characters were so well written and the dialogue was sharp and natural. This is an amazing debut and an amazing novel in general. Already one of my top books of the year. It was an absolute pleasure to read and I can't wait to revisit it.
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This story just blew my mind! It was a great story and I hope to read more from Bonnie Garmus!.
It begins in the 1960's with two intelligent odd balls who don't really fit in anywhere and struggle to make and keep friends after suffering horrid childhoods. Calvin and Elizabeth.  Fast forward to their early twenties and they literally run into each other and slowly but surely fall in love. But the story doesn't end there. It tells of how Elizabeth is treated as a second class citizen at work and in life, although she's a very intelligent woman but so are all the women at that time and they lie down and take it which annoys Elizabeth and she wants things to change. Calvin is the top chemist in the company she works for but Elizabeth, who works so hard to get results, has her work stolen and someone else takes the credit for this work. Calvin is fascinated by her and so proud of all that she achieves. He quietly helps her in the background unbeknown to her!!. Then Elizabeth suffers a shocking and sudden loss plus loses her job for a really stupid reason. So she's suddenly going to be a single mother and has to turn around and get a job...She meets a school dad called Walter Pine who sees the strong, intelligent and beautiful woman that she is and wants her to be in an afternoon cooking show that he's producing....
Elizabeth is so inspiring and I found myself cheering when she had a win at any point and really sad when things didn't go her way.
This book is full of great characters with stories of their own that make the book so fascinating so I read on and on and on!!!!
Many thanks to Netgalley for the free arc book for an honest review.
#Netgalley,#randomhouse,#bonnie_garmus_author.
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