Cover Image: Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I tried reading this book but I couldn't get into it. very different book. I found that this book was interesting with being a chemist and now a tv star. I did enjoy the romance between the chemists.
Was this review helpful?
This was a fun book with some very quirky characters. Set in 1960s California, Elizabeth is a chemist who ends up becoming the star of a beloved cooking show. This story was unique, layered and had great characters, especially the dog!
Was this review helpful?
This was such a fun book! Women in science--so fun! Quirky characters, interesting points of views (some is narrated by a dog), but it all works out and I loved it. The characters are so memorable and well-written. I was sad and happy and frustrated (for the characters) and laughed throughout. I think this will be a best seller, and I highly recommend it!
Was this review helpful?
I have such mixed feelings about this book.  I finished it a few weeks ago and wanted to sit with it before writing my review.  Unfortunately, that did not help me sort out my thoughts or feelings.  It is quirky and clever and at times laugh out loud funny.  However, I feel like there have been a lot of books coming out lately that are given the same description.  Maybe this genre is being overdone at the moment.  It seems like there have been so many Asperger-like, possibly on the spectrum, characters in books over the past few years that it is no longer quirky and charming.  And this book has a few that will fit that bill.  Another thing that bothered me about the book was that the clever and funny prose and situations sometimes got in the way of the seriousness of how women were treated in the workplace in the 1960's.  I think there could have been a better balance between funny and serious with that theme.  That said, it is arguably difficult to strike the right tone without offending someone.

The book centers on chemist Elizabeth Zott who was not able to get her doctorate for reasons that become clear later in the book.  She works at Hastings Research Institute where she is treated as lesser than the men though she is obviously intellectually superior to many of them.  She meets Calvin Evans, a fellow scientist who is much more successful, and he initially dismisses her as a secretary.  Predictably they fall in love and live together quite happily.  Several years later, Elizabeth is alone, struggling financially, and trying to raise her daughter.  Everything about her life, including her approach to parenting, is unconvential.  She is offered a job hosting a cooking show which becomes the most popular show on daytime television.  In addition to mastering the kitchen, she is teaching women how to stand up for themselves and work toward their dreams.  

So what's not to love here?  This is one of those books that I was eager to read at times and had to force myself to pick up at others.  It is almost like the author was trying to hard to be cute and clever.  The characters were too cookie-cutter and predictable.  Even reading their backstory did not make them more relatable.  Maybe that is part of my dissatisfaction.  I liked the characters well enough, but I really did not care what happened to them, except for the dog.  I was rooting for the dog, who was also the most interesting character in the book.  The plot was fairly predictable, with one twist I did not see coming.  Other than making an effort to mull it over for the past few weeks, this is not a book that I will remember.
Was this review helpful?
This is Elizabeth Zott’s story whom we are told has “flawless skin and an unmistakable demeanor of someone who was not average and never would be.  It’s the early 60s and men and women take exception to her claim to be a scientist and insist that she belongs where all women belong, either working as a secretary or married, raising children.

I can’t say this book is laugh-out-loud funny as the publisher’s blurb claims but it is a delightful and quick read.  I was saddened by her losses but she wasn’t; just more hurdles to cross that would have dashed the hopes of any other woman.  She never lost sight of her goal which was to work as a scientist in a lab, not work for men as a lab assistant.  When she was offered a TV show on cooking she did it her way and turned it into a chemistry class, gaining a huge following the process. 

Her goal?  To live in a society, “a place that didn’t always automatically mistake her for a secretary, a place where, when she presented her findings in a meeting, she didn’t have to brace herself for the men who would invariably talk over her, or worse, take credit for her work.”  I think the author wants to remind us of how far women have come in their fight for equality in the home and workplace and that it’s up to us to stand up and speak up, as Elizabeth did, to make sure we don’t lose the ground we have gained.

My favorite line in the book - “No surprise.  Idiots make it into every company.  They tend to interview well.”
Was this review helpful?
⭐⭐⭐⭐4 Stars
This story is described as the most different story you have ever read. 
Trust me in saying ~ our Zott is going to be the talk of every ‘Women’s Book Club’ in the country come April! No doubt it is going to be as much of a hit as Zott is with her ‘Cooking Show’!

There are parts of this story that you will have you laughing out loud and there were also parts that I totally teared up. 

Story starts with Elizabeth Zott a chemist and a single-mother but becomes an unlikely TV star!

Story goes back 10 years to a ‘Then’ Chemist Elizabeth Zott who is working in the all-male Hastings Research Institute. This all-male team doesn’t believe in equality and isn’t sure of Elizabeth. However one brilliant but lonely scientist Calvin Evans finds something very special with Elizabeth! In fact, they are so much alike that it isn’t a surprise that they become a couple. However, before they became a couple they collided in a theater lobby and he threw up on her!
He wanted to marry and have a family~ Zott will have none of that but does agree to move in with him.
Then something unexpected happens. . . . .

Calvin does leave Elizabeth something very special. She finds herself with child. When the baby is born, she is somewhat in a state of shock, as she has no idea what to do with “it”.
 Thankfully her neighbor Harriett Sloane helps her. Elizabeth states to Harriett that she is a terrible mother~ twice she was willing to give the baby away. Harriett states. What only twice? I threatened at least 20 times!

Now: Yes! The TV cooking (Lessons in Chemistry) show is totally fun! 
The characters are  GREAT  
Elizabeth’s and Calvin’s daughter “Mad’ is so adorable ~ you will love her immediately. Awww that Harriett ~ every new mom needs a neighbor like her!
Of course, loved Calvin, he had such love and faith in Elizabeth. He was positive that someday she would be immortalized. 


I always love to read the Author’s Note/Acknowledgements. In this case, I was curious as to the motivation in writing this story. Ms. Garmus didn’t explain but sure thanks a lot of wonderful people especially those who helped with her research.
There is a great apology to her dog ‘99’ for all the times she said. “Just let me finish this paragraph - then I’ll be right there”.

		Awww how many times have YOU said that!?

Want to thank NetGalley and Doubleday for this eGalley. This file has been made available to me before publication in an early form for an honest professional review.  
Publishing Release Date scheduled for April 5, 2022
Was this review helpful?
This book is SO surprising, fun, and entertaining - it pulled me in and I didn’t want to put it down. Who would have imagined that a love story about two quirky scientists could be this good? The characters are well developed, the plot took turns I didn’t see coming, and there is such a distinctive warmth to this novel that was exactly what I needed. I am so glad I gave this one a chance! 

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book! Anything form this period of time is always an interesting dive into the vastly changing landscape for women in the 5o's and 60's. Thank you so much for an advanced copy of this book to read and review. I can't wait share my full review when the publication dates gets closer.
Was this review helpful?
Living through the 1960s was a challenge for women wanting to be seen as more than Suzy Homemaker. But the male-dominated hierarchy was all about maintaining the status quo and keeping their proverbial feet on our necks, thereby ensuring we never get out from under their collective weight. But then they haven't met Elizabeth Zott, Chemist. Elizabeth is brilliant, totally unconventional and to her dismay, uncommonly beautiful. She considers her looks a distraction from her goals as a scientist. As an employee of the male-dominated Hastings Research Institute, Elizabeth is relegated to menial jobs and her ground-breaking theories are ignored. Until she meets the one man who is not threatened by her intellect, Calvin Evans. Yes, the painfully shy Calvin Evans, twice nominated for the Nobel prize despite his near reclusive and grudge-holding tendencies. That Calvin falls in love with Elizabeth's mind, illustrating the power of chemistry.

As we all know, life is full of surprises and when Elizabeth finds herself a single mother nearing destitution, she reluctantly agrees to star in a TV cooking show. She's always maintained that cooking is chemistry and, much to the producer's chagrin, she decides to use that approach in the show, using the chemical names of ingredients and encouraging her audience to challenge the status quo. Her popularity explodes like a nova. Who knew?

Bonnie Garmus' "Lessons in Chemistry" is a riot. Elizabeth's science-based, yet offbeat approach to life and everyday living evokes a wide range of emotions, most of which are laugh-out-loud funny. Elizabeth's offbeat sense is never more apparent than when a stray dog follows her home. Calvin asks about her follower as she's looking at her watch and notes the time of day. Thus the dog is hereafter known as Six-Thirty. But it's not all fun and games. There are also moments of poignancy, bits of wisdom and keen observation that we've come to expect from an author of Garmus' caliber. If you're in the mood for a rollicking good read, look no farther than "Lessons in Chemistry" due for publication April 5, 2022. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance reader's copy (ARC) of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
#Net Galley
#Lessons in Chemistry
Was this review helpful?
Without a doubt Lessons in Chemistry is going to be one of the best books of 2022. I LOVED this book. Set in the 50’s and early 60’s when women were viewed as little more than chattel for men’s convenience, Elizabeth Zott had the temerity to become a chemist. And oh how she was made to pay the price, until she and fellow brilliant chemist Calvin Evan, fell  in love, and he valued her work as much as he loved her. But their bliss is short lived, felled by tragedy and Elizabeth unmarried and pregnant is once again fired and on the outside. 
The other main characters, Mad, her daughter, her neighbor Harriet Sloane, Walter her producer, and of course their dog 6:30 are every bit as complex and wonderful as Elizabeth and combined create an incredible novel that is funny and sad, fills you with rage, gives you hope, and has you cheering for every character and all women everywhere. Do not miss this novel!
Was this review helpful?
I do not know what to say about Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Gamus, but to say that, although it is only January 10th, I am positive that this is going to be my favorite book of the year until quite far into the year when something MIGHT top it, but I'm not counting on it. I still have happy tears in my eyes from the end of the book; it will have touched all of your emotions by the time you finish. 

The first third of the book might have moved a tad slowly, but it definitely picked up after that. Gamus' writing style and character development pulls you right into the center of the story. Although the story jumped timelines throughout, it was never confusing and felt purposeful to the continuation of the story. 

As much as it pains me to say this, I guess my recommendation would be toward the female population, but I honestly feel there are many males who would enjoy this book, even if they were embarrassed to admit it. As I said before, it will leave no emotion untouched, but is well worth the rollercoaster ride!
Was this review helpful?
Some of this book went right over my head, some of it was endearing and tender, and yet most of it was fresh, creative and genuine. There will definitely be an audience for Lessons in Chemistry, and it is certain to stir up emotions among them. The book is a tribute to the importance of making your own family, right where you are, with whom you are lucky enough to be around.
Was this review helpful?
For every woman whose had a man hold her back, steal her thunder, or speak down to her... Elizabeth Zott will feel like your spirit animal. Unable to complete her doctorate, Elizabeth Zott is determined to be a scientist and takes a job at the only lab who will employ her. Nothing will hold her back, not even a limitation on her supplies, so she ventures to another lab in the building to procure some glassware. And there she meets a fellow scientist, world-renowned Calvin Evans, and the most beautiful , passionate love affair blossoms. Until tragedy strikes. And Elizabeth is left along, with a child on the way. 

Now, this is the early 1960's in California. While Elizabeth is beyond conventional thinking, it is a struggle to find acceptance. And Elizabeth is not one to compromise, and you won't want her to because she is refreshing. Avant-garde. And beautiful. Perfect for television, if only she's not held back by men who just can't adjust to equality. Offered a spot as the host of a cooking show called Supper at Six, Elizabeth takes the opportunity because cooking is science. Meant for housewives to find inspiration for dinner, the show helps mothers get dinner on the table for the family. But Elizabeth makes it a soapbox and you'll cheer her on. 

This is a book I will buy for myself, I will give it as a gift, and it is one I will read whenever I need a burst of girl power. It is a touchstone to remind of women of how far we've come, but it reveals all the ways we must continue to own our place.
Was this review helpful?
Lessons in Chemistry is an amazing read!! I can't wait for the pub date so that I can gift and recommend it to all my friends. I adored Elizabeth's strength, intellect, and determination to live a meaningful life and to raise her daughter well, despite challenging circumstances. This was such a smart read full of humor and emotion. Even if you aren't a scientist, you'll adore this book! 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced review copy of this ebook. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
This book is filled with all sorts of things and tends to go in multiple directions at once.  I’m not sure what the theme is here, but it will definitely appeal to liberal women of the woke generation.  There were a lot of social ills and issues from the 50s and 60s which were addressed and a lot of stereotypes which were caricatured – some to good effect and some greatly overplayed.

For the entire book (down to the last scene) we were told what a brilliant scientist our heroine, Elizabeth, was and that she was not allowed to continue her study for her PhD because she reported that a professor had attacked her.  But in the end she acknowledged that she’d never even gone to college and did not even qualify for graduate school.  She had gleaned all the wealth of information that she had by her own studies in the public library.   That was a nice way to acknowledge the value of public libraries, but there are also ways (at the public library) to achieve credentials so that the reader may continue her studies in a formalized manner.

Also the reason she said she had such a low position at Hastings was that she had reported a man for attacking her.  No, the reason was that she didn’t have the credentials.  I don’t doubt that the men attempted to attack her, but it was her own lack of credentials holding back her advancement.

I loved the cooking show.  That was probably my favorite part of the book.

A lot of the story was delightful.  A lot of the story was insightful.  

I appreciate having received this ARC from NetGalley and the publisher, Penguin Random House, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.  All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
Was this review helpful?
"Lessons in Chemistry" by Bonnie Garmus comes out in April and it's a book I can't wait to buy. I mean just LOOK at that cover art. We're told not to judge a book by its cover – and obviously shouldn't – but what a package deal when the words inside are just as good as the stellar creative on the outside.

Set in the early 1960s, “Lessons in Chemistry” follows Elizabeth Zott, a female scientist who is constantly told by the men of the 1960's (except one that believes in her whole-heartedly) that she belongs in the domestic sphere, not the professional one – and definitely not a scientific lab. When Elizabeth finds herself pregnant, alone and subsequently fired from her lab for BEING pregnant and alone, she's forced to pivot once more and accepts a job as the host of a TV cooking show. Just like everything Elizabeth does, she does it her own way, refusing to bend to the whims of others. She turns a quaint primetime TV cooking show for housewives into her own science classroom, using cooking as the conduit for laboratory experiments and creating an entire movement in the process. Not only does she educate a nation of overlooked women how science works, but she shows them that their hopes and dreams are meant to be fought for. 

The cast of supporting characters in this book are spectacular. Each one of them has their own depth and unique personalities. Elizabeth herself is an intimidating character, and I absolutely adored her. She's an efficient, hard working, take-shit-from-noone go getter.  She is the spitfire and trailblazer I wish to be. While I watched her overcome obstacle after obstacle set in her path, I felt absolutely giddy to see what she'd do next. This book covers it all: death of a loved one, sexual assault, women shaming other women, female empowerment, the power of good men, the absolute terror of bad men, and most importantly, amazing relationships. While that sounds like a lot to cover in any book, Bonnie Garmus makes it an absolute delight to read. Not only is it laugh out loud funny, but there are so many positively sweet moments among that make all the bad ones wash away. At the end of the book, I could do nothing else but stand up and applaud Elizabeth for her tenacious spirit.

"Lessons in Chemistry" is bold, strong and meaty. It's a beautiful story about soulmates, what makes a family a family, the strength of women, and just one hecking well written novel. Read it, feel it, learn from it.

Thank you Doubleday Books, NetGalley and Bonnie Garmus for giving me the opportunity to read this amazing ARC. Review will be posted within the week on my Rarely_Reading social channels
Was this review helpful?
I loved everything about this book! It was hilarious and smart and I can't believe this is a debut novel! I would highly recommend it!
Was this review helpful?
This was the first book I read in 2022, and-- like most things over the past couple of years-- it was not at all what I expected. In this case, it turned out to be WAY better! Elizabeth Zott is a chemist, cooking show host, rower, survivor, mother, and just an all-around badass independent woman in the 1960s-- a time when ladies were supposed to stay home, cook dinner, and raise babies. With a description that says, "Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize-nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results," I expected the typical guy-meets-girl, guy-loses-girl, happily-ever-after. But whoa. This book was so much deeper. There are a few mysteries, a fairy godmother acorn (you have to read it to understand that one), and a whole lot of shaking up the norms. I LOVED this book and think everyone should read it, too!
Was this review helpful?
I was so disappointed in this one. I read about it and watched my inbox for the approval from NetGalley so I could drop my current read to pick this one up. I didn't actually finish this one so I can't speak to how everything comes together. What I can say is that it felt forced. I wanted it to win me over for the character like in the Rosie Project or even The Good Sister by Hepworth.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I love Elizabeth Zott and her irrepressible daughter, Mad.  Wonderful novel with strong female characters.
Was this review helpful?