Lessons in Chemistry
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Meet Elizabeth Zott: “a gifted research chemist, absurdly self-assured and immune to social convention” (The Washington Post) in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show. This novel 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
If you love midcentury aesthetics—but can do without the misogyny—Elizabeth Zott is the heroine for you. The 1960s chemist is unapologetic and brilliant, but sexism in her field makes it near impossible to advance. What a surprise, then, that an offer to host a cooking show turns out to be just the opportunity Elizabeth’s been waiting for. We love Bonnie Garmus’ precise, honest, no-nonsense protagonist, a single mother who initially agrees to her new gig solely to provide for her smart 10-year-old daughter, Madeline. Elizabeth approaches her job at Supper at Six in her unique way, hosting in a lab coat, giving proper chemical names for ingredients, and encouraging her viewers to take their dreams, abilities, and intelligence 100 percent seriously. A vintage dramedy with a wicked-smart 21st-century spin, Lessons in Chemistry is a gem.
Garmus debuts with a perplexing feminist fairy tale set in 1960s Southern California. Plucky chemist Elizabeth Zott believes she's not like other women ("Most of the women she'd met in college claimed they were only there to get their MRS," Garmus writes. "It was disconcerting, as if they'd all drunk something that had rendered them temporarily insane"). She proceeds to fall madly in love with her colleague, have his child, and then, after being sidelined by double standards, sexual harassment, and scandal around her pregnancy, she's dismissed from her job and becomes an overnight sensation as the host of a daytime cooking show. This trajectory, and its few tragedies, are intermittently interrupted by the anthropomorphized thoughts of her dog, Six-Thirty: "Humans were strange, Six-Thirty thought, the way they constantly battled dirt in their aboveground world, but after death willingly entombed themselves in it." In the end, everything works out not because the patriarchy is destroyed or fairness is achieved, but thanks to the favors of a rich female benefactor equipped to strike back at those who humiliated Zott. While the scenes of Zott hosting her show do have their charm, the overall effect is about as deep as a Hallmark card. The author has a great voice, but contemporary readers will be left wondering who this is for. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM.
A must read for women in the workplace
What an amazing book. To be Elizabeth Zott in the 1950s and to go through such a incredible career. The state of Women in science in the US is still not where it should be. We have come a long way but we are not there yet.its a beautifully written book!
Love the book
Unbelievable book. I couldn’t put it down. It made me think about how far women have come yet how much further we need to go.
Loved this book, it was so well written! I was sad to finish it! Everyone should read it!