Book Review | Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

I finally read Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus; the #1 Sunday Times bestseller everyone’s talking about. I can happily inform you that the hype is completely justified. What an absolute joy this book is. I’m utterly astonished that this is Garmus’ debut novel.

“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.

But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take 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.”

Elizabeth Zott is a wonderfully eccentric single mother, chemist and reluctant host of Supper at Six, America’s number one cooking show that is sparking a revolution in the kitchen. She’s hilariously frank, incredibly intelligent, unapologetic in her beliefs and, well, perhaps a touch socially inept.

Set in the 60s, Elizabeth isn’t afraid to challenge the societal norms and injustices women face both in the workplace and in the home. Yes, her relationship with Calvin is a turning point in the book, however, I wouldn’t class Lessons in Chemistry as a romance. It’s the story of one incredible woman’s journey to defy the oppressive patriarchy determined to keep her ‘in line’.

The abundance of misogyny and abuse she encounters (TW this book contains SA) is heartbreaking and, at times, relentless. It’s incredibly frustrating but also inspirational how Zott continues to dig her heels in at every roadblock and tragedy she encounters. The heartbreak is perfectly balanced by ball-kicking moments of triumph, Zott’s hilariously dry wit and her canine companion, the simply adorable, Six-Thirty. What a scene-stealer.

Zott is simply a feminist icon and as soon as the book came to an end, I found myself missing her presence. Thankfully, Lessons in Chemistry is soon to be a major Apple TV series starring Brie Larson and I for one will definitely be tuning in.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is available HERE.

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