Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in ChemistryLessons in Chemistry
by Bonnie Garmus
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9780857528124
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Pages: 390
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday

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.

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.

This was a total impulse purchase.  It showed up on my Amazon feed when I was looking up another book.  The colourful cover caught my eye and at first I thought it was non-fiction, which is why I clicked on it.  Turns out it was fiction, but with an interesting story line that promised to be funny.  So I bought it.

The narrative jumps around on the timeline a bit at the start, and the first ‘flashback’ wasn’t funny.  It was dark and there’s a definite trigger warning for sexual assault.  The story takes place in the late 50’s so the misogyny is ripe on the ground and infuriating to read.  But there are moments of humor and more importantly, there are men who aren’t assholes.  In fact, the ratio is about 50/50, and the author includes a number of misogynistic women too, so that this story is set in what was probably a very realistic late 50’s/early 60’s backdrop.  The story itself … not quite so realistic but it was a lot of fun imagining what it would have been like had it been a realistic story.  The scenes on-set were hilarious, and I loved the dog (and his name).

There’s a come-full-circle, fairy tale ending to the whole thing but the only other alternative ending I can imagine would involve a romantic HEA, and I much prefer this one, as it makes the story far more empowering without any knights in shining armour.

A solid read.

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