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Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel

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ISBN-10: 038554734X
ISBN-13 : 978-0385547345
Publisher : Doubleday; First Edition (April 5, 2022)
Language : English
Hardcover: 400 pages
Reading Age : None
Dimensions : 6.49 x 1.36 x 9.62 inches
Item Weight : 1.58 pounds

$18.26 $16.43

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD WINNER • Meet Elizabeth Zott: a “formidable, unapologetic and inspiring” ( PARADE ) scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel” ( The New York Times Book Review ) and “witty, sometimes hilarious…the Catch-22 of early feminism.” (Stephen King, via Twitter) A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Oprah Daily, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek “The most delightful novel I read this year…fresh and surprising…I laughed out loud!” —Philip Galanes, The New York Times “A unique heroine…you’ll find yourself wishing she wasn’t fictional.” — Seattle Times 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.

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4 Reviews Write a review
  1. Vikki Y

    I will try not to give anything away but first of all, this novel should not be described as being funny, comical, etc. because it is not. To be honest with you, the first half of the book left me pretty depressed and angry due to the hardships our main character Elizabeth Zott goes through as a chemist who is a woman, living in the 1950s California. The problem with the literal 50% of the book is that the author, Bonnie Garmus, introduces her readers to the Zott in the 1960s and then goes back to the 1950s in exposition-style for half of the book. The entire first half of the novel felt like a building-up to the point where the “real” story is supposed to begin, which is it sort of did, at approximately 52%, according to my Kindle. For example, we found out that something tragic occurred in Zott’s early years within one sentence (i.e. literally “X happened to X because of this”). There wasn’t room for the readers to form any emotional connection. However, once we did hit the 50% mark, the story seem to flow out more smoothly and didn’t feel as lack of descriptions anymore (or have I gotten used to Garmus’ writing style at that point?). There were witty lines spoken by Zott that may be “funny,” (I only ever cracked up once) and the characters introduced in the second half were more emotive and in-depth unlike the exposition of different players we have read in the first half that make the readers just dislike almost every single one of them. All in all, the second half provided hope and a possible positive direction into the future; it definitely redeemed the entire novel for me. Overall, Lessons in Chemistry was an entertaining read that did not bore me a second and I think this is a very enjoyable women’s fiction.

  2. Carolyn Dargevics

    Last night, in the wee hours of the morning, I finished this amazing book. And my first thought was “WOW!” This so speaks to women. It’s a novel that is packed with not only all the emotions we women feel but solutions to our perception of being powerless. It begins in the 50s and continues into the 60s but is so relevant to today because we are still groveling at inequality and abuses. Whatever strides we’ve made in being taken seriously in sexual assaults, employment and educational disparities, and being judged by our looks, our associations, our activities, etc., this book not only highlights what it was like, but sadly, as a reader in the 21st century, how it continues and how it seems to be returning., Even though I saw this book as number one on a bestseller list. I wasn’t interested because the synopsis was about cooking. I don’t cook, I don’t like to cook, and I don’t want to cook. But, after seeing it on the list for many weeks, I went to my library’s website to order it. Available in our southern Wisconsin library system for the regular-print novel there are 137 books available but 948 requests on hold. For the large print, there are 45 books with 425 requests on hold. So, this gave me enough curiosity to order it from Amazon., Again, WOW! The protagonist, Elizabeth Zott — to her coworkers, bosses, audience, etc — implores them not only to not grovel (my word, not hers) but gives . . . here it comes . . . evidence as to it all in the form of science and chemistry. I know, it comes across as boring and uninteresting. Believe me, it is not! And I do not review lightly any book. She takes her grudges, her faltering self-esteem, her gender to such levels as to stand up for herself and challenge herself and others to not accept or tolerate the abuses., Read the book. Wear a sharpened #2 pencil in your hair (it’s in the book). This book is worth your money, your time, your sanity, your present, your future . . . YOU.

  3. Stephanie Todd

    Elizabeth Zott is does not fit into the typical 1960s housewife mold. In fact, she isn’t a housewife at all. A mother? Yes. A housewife? Never. A scientist? First and foremost!, This heartwarming novel follows the main character’s challenges as a female chemist in the 1960s trying to be taken seriously in a world and industry dominated by men. She faces sexism, harassment, love, heartbreak, motherhood, success, and failure, and, through it all, she is steadfast in her belief that she is no less capable than the men who continuously undermine and oppress her., Elizabeth undermines the misogynistic beliefs of the time with the simplest tool of all: logic. She proves time and again that it’s not only immoral but also illogical to treat women as incapable and incompetent. She not only challenges the men in her life, much to their dismay, she speaks to an entire generation of women, using cooking to teach science and equality., This was an easy, enjoyable read with emotion, laughter, and intellect. I rated it 4 stars because I felt the ending was a bit rushed and tied everything up a little too neatly, and, honestly, a bit unbelievably. But, overall, it’s well worth the read!

  4. indy_thinker

    I am in an all-male book club, and this funny and at times poignant feminist manifesto generated a lot of really good discussion., The biggest critique seemed to be that it was ultimately a bit trite. Imagine a really brilliant grad student (in today’s world) who is magically transported back to the 1950s and then is forced to confront all the stupid rules surrounding patriarchy. To wit: women must get married. If they get married, they should probably not have a job. If they have children, they should definitely not have a job. And, above all, a woman should not have a child out of wedlock and expect to keep her job., Ms. Garmus (who has a dog named 99) does a great job of skewering that mentality., But, at some level, her character’s emotional life is a bit unbelievable: it’s like she is at times on the spectrum, and at others is super in-tune with the emotions of those around her, and even her own., That said: it’s a fun read. There are a lot worse ways to spend your time, than hanging out with Elizabeth Zott.

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