Book Review: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Posted March 30, 2022 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 43 Comments

Lessons in Chemistry
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by Bonnie Garmus
Publication Date April 5, 2022
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Purchase Here Buy on Amazon US - Buy on Apple - Buy on Kobo - Buy on Google - Buy at Barnes and Noble - Buy on Waterstones - Buy on Audible - Buy on Amazon UK
Genres: Fiction / Feminist, Fiction / Humorous / General, Fiction / Literary
Pages: 400
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

A must-read debut novel! Meet Elizabeth Zott: a one-of-a-kind scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the star of a beloved TV cooking show.

“It's the world versus Elizabeth Zott, an extraordinary woman determined to live on her own terms, and I had no trouble choosing a side.... A page-turning and highly satisfying tale: zippy, zesty, and Zotty.” —Maggie Shipstead, best-selling author of Great Circle

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.

Every once in a while, a book comes around that just stuns me.  I can’t even put into words how much I loved Lessons in Chemistry.  It is refreshingly different, historical, and highlights the struggles of women scientists in the late 1950s.  

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is a very unusual woman, even by today’s standards, but back in the late 1950s, she was even more unusual.  A brilliant scientist who was ahead of her time, she eschewed conformity and lived her life by her rules as much as she could. 

Elizabeth falls in love with fellow scientist Calvin Evans, and they share a love of their work at the Hastings Research Institute.  Calvin is the only man at the institute who believes she is as intelligent as the men, and he helps her navigate the male-dominated workplace. 

All too soon, Elizabeth finds herself a single mother, and out of her job at the institute.  She finds an opportunity to host a cooking show named Supper at Six.  After all, cooking is nothing more than chemistry.  Her oddball approach to hosting the show angers the producers and sponsors, but charms the housewives of Los Angeles and eventually the housewives of the country.  

I just loved this story.  It was not what I was expecting, and instead, I found quirky characters, a fascinating premise, and a history lesson.  I was both infuriated and entertained as Elizabeth navigated the world around her, in her own, unconventional way.  Intelligent, stubborn, and extremely self-sufficient, Elizabeth lives by her own rules and doesn’t care about the world around her.  I loved her, but my favorite character was Six-Thirty, a very large, ugly mutt, who was trained by Elizabeth and Calvin and is an extremely intelligent dog. 

If you’re looking for something a little bit different, that will charm and entice you, Lessons in Chemistry is the book for you.  I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Bonnie Garmus

Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked widely in the fields of technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open-water swimmer, a rower, and mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Born in California and most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99.

International Covers:

UK Version
German Version

What do you think of these covers! I like the UK one best, but they are all great.

43 responses to “Book Review: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

  1. It wasn’t that long ago that women had to fight so hard to be recognized for their intelligence! It’s so infuriating. Sounds like an interesting read.

  2. Hi Wendy! Gosh I love how you handle your reviews. I definitely get inspiration from you!

    Chemistry (the lab ones, not the emotional ones) is becoming a popular topic lately. I think that’s awesome. Not that I’m a wizz at all… I love the sound of Lessons in Chemistry and I am adding it to my TBR right now.

    Thanks for paying us a visit, I feel very honored!

    Lots of Love,

  3. Excellent review Wendy. love when a book surprises me in a good way! I have been pending on NG for a long time for this one, so will probably end up buying it when it comes out.

    • I hope you enjoy it. I’ve seen other reviews and they are mostly all really positive. I found it an easy read as well. Might be a good audiobook too.

  4. This is a surprising book! How fun! My book club is currently reading Code Girls, a nonfiction book which ties in with Lessons in Chemistry because there are lots of issues of women competing with men in the U.S. as the women filled jobs so that the men could be used in fighting roles.

  5. Kaceey

    Fabulous review Wendy! Don’t you just love when a book surprises you!🤩💖📚💞

  6. This sounds so good! I love that it’s set during the 1950s. And Elizabeth sounds like a great character. 🙂

  7. Jenny+McClinton

    I have heard so much about this book & it seems so different, I will have to add it too my to buy list 😊

  8. Wonderful review Wendy🙂 I do love the sound of this especially Elizabeth as a character. The dog sounds adorable as well

    • I think a dog having his own POV is often corny, but in this case, the dog is so intelligent, that I enjoyed him.

  9. This book sounds so good! I’m glad I picked it for my book box this month & can’t wait to read it!

    I like the U.S. cover best. They’re REALLY different, which I always find interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    • It’s such a refreshingly different story. And it’s told in a very easy manner. I hope you enjoy it if you get it.

  10. What a wonderful review!! The book sounds great!! I like the US cover but I agree with you, I think I like the UK cover best! Have a great day!!