Thursday, July 28, 2022

Audio Book Review: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus



Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 5, 2022
Source: Personal Copy
Publisher: Random House Audio
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
 

 

Goodreads says, "A delight for readers of Where'd You Go, Bernadette and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, this blockbuster debut set in 1960s California features the singular voice of Elizabeth Zott, a scientist whose career takes a detour when she becomes the star of a beloved TV cooking show. Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it's the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with--of all things--her mind. True chemistry results. But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America's most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth's unusual approach to cooking ("combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride") proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn't just teaching women to cook. She's daring them to change the status quo. Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist."

 

Elizabeth Zott is a household name. It's the 1960s and she is the star of a cooking show called Supper at Six.  Except Elizabeth isn't like Julia Child, she is more like Albert Einstein. Elizabeth is a chemist and has a brilliant mind. She once worked in a lab doing important work, but was let go due to an out of wedlock pregnancy. Yup. You heard that right. Cue the patriarchy.  While on her show, Elizabeth Zott gives women during the time period hope and her cooking show isn't just mix flour and sugar...viola! Elizabeth uses terms like lipids, sodium chloride, H20, and more jargon that empowers her viewers.  After all, cooking is a form of chemistry, right? Let's go back to how she ended up here. In the late 1950s, men were always taking advantage of her at work, stealing her ideas, etc, but she could always count on her boyfriend, Calvin Evans, a world famous chemist, for his respect.  Calvin was the love of her life and they have a daughter together, but the path of true love isn't a smooth one, especially for Elizabeth.  Bonnie Garmus's debut, Lessons in Chemistry, is such a laugh-out-loud brilliant book that would be perfect for vacation, especially if you love a smart, feminist read.

Elizabeth Zott. Just saying her name brings a smile to my face. I don't think I have rooted more for a protagonist than Zott in Lessons in Chemistry. I loved her mind, her spunk, and her determination.  As she navigates jerks at work and blatant sexism, I was rooting even more for her. How could I not? I also really liked her relationship with Calvin and learning more about his childhood in the orphanage, and of course, his dog Six-Thirty. As a dog lover, I really enjoyed the chapters that were from his point of a view--a fun touch to the story.

I listened to the audio version of Lessons in Chemistry and was hooked. The narrator, Miranda Raison, did a great job and I thoroughly enjoyed being lost in Zott's world.  It's a impressive debut from Garmus, and I definitely have my eye on her future work for sure.

Fans of quirky novels will especially enjoy Lessons in Chemistry, which will most definitely be one of my favorite books of the year. Have you read Lessons in Chemistry? Is it on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 


2 comments:

  1. I have been seeing this everywhere but literally no had idea what it was about. The time period is really intriguing and especially all that Elizabeth has to deal with because of it.

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