Sunday, March 26, 2023

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

A delight for readers of Where'd You Go, Bernadette, this blockbuster debut set in 1960s California features the singular voice of Elizabeth Zott, a scientist whose career takes a detour when she becomes the star of a beloved TV cooking show.

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 1960s and despite the fact that she is a scientist, her peers are very unscientific when it comes to equality. The only good thing to happen to her on the road to professional fulfillment is a run-in with her super-star colleague Calvin Evans (well, she stole his beakers). The only man who ever treated her--and her ideas--as equal, Calvin is already a legend and Nobel nominee. He's also awkward, kind and tenacious. Theirs is true chemistry.

But as events are never as predictable as chemical reactions, three years later Elizabeth Zott is an unwed, single mother (did we mention it's the early 60s?) and the star of America's most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth's singular approach to cooking (take one pint of H2O and add a pinch of sodium chloride) and independent example are proving revolutionary. Because Elizabeth isn't just teaching women how to cook, she's teaching them how to change the status quo.

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters (including the best canine character in years), Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

Paperback, 390 pages
Audiobook, 11 hours, 55 minutes
Published March 29, 2022
 by Doubleday Canada
4/5 stars

Elizabeth Zott is a single mother in the 1960s, she defies all stereotypes for women of her time. She is intelligent but socially awkward, with a unique personality that is both entertaining and endearing. Her loyal companion, a dog named Six-Thirty, adds to her charm. 

This was a hybrid read, combining both the book and audiobook formats. While I enjoyed the audiobook, I believe that reading the book in its entirety would have resulted in a lower rating.  The three readers did an exceptional job bringing the characters to life with their distinct voices, making the humour more enjoyable.

Lessons is a story about a woman ahead of her time. Despite her lack of social skills, Elizabeth's antics make her a likeable character.  Her daughter, Mad and Six-Thirty are also delightful additions to the story.  The plot was both entertaining while tackling some serious socials issues with a touch of humour.

This is the author's debut, looking forward to what comes up next.

This book was part of my 2023 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge - #21

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