Title: Lessons in Chemistry
Author: Bonnie Garmus
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Release Date: April 5, 2022
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.
In the 1950s, Elizabeth Zott stands out as the only woman in the chemistry department at Hastings Research Institute. Most of the men who she works with put her down and don’t see her as an equal. The exception is Calvin Evans. Calvin is a famous chemist who falls in love with Elizabeth. A few years later, Elizabeth is a single mother with a hit TV show that teaches housewives how to cook with chemistry lessons. Elizabeth has become a success despite the men who tried to hold her back throughout her career. But there are still some secrets in her life and Calvin’s that she must learn to become the chemist she’s destined to be.
I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this book but I’m so glad I read it. This is an original story about a woman who challenged the status quo in the 1950s in the US. She had to deal with sexism and assaults, which unfortunately isn’t all a thing of the past. I wish Elizabeth’s story and the sexism she experienced wasn’t still relevant today. Though many industries are more welcoming to women, a lot more work has to be done to actually achieve equality for women and people of colour.
I highly recommend checking out Lessons in Chemistry for a unique read!
Content warnings: death of parents, suicide, rape, sexual assault
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The Maid by Nita Prose
Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown
Have you read Lessons for Chemistry? What did you think of it?