Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is a dazzling story about one woman’s fight against misogyny.
I try to read many of the celebrity book club picks and after finishing True Biz by Sara Novic (Reese’s April Book Club Pick), I decided to try Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (GMA April Book Club Pick). I’ve seen so many glowing reviews for the novel and my expectations were sky high. And it delivered. I quite enjoyed it and I thought the ending is extremely satisfying.
But I will say it did take me a bit to get into the story. Longer than I expected. I actually felt the story really took off when the TV cooking show part began.
What’s the Story About
Lessons in Chemistry follows Elizabeth Zott: a one-of-a-kind scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show.
Elizabeth has dealt with it all. Plenty of misogyny and people doubting her skills. All she wants to do is work on her scientific research but the patriarchy keeps standing in her way. Everything changes for Elizabeth when the most unlikely event happens—she falls in love with a fellow scientist, Calvin.
But as life is unpredictable, Elizabeth eventually finds herself as a single mother and without a job. Through an extraordinary set of events, she ends up becoming the host of a TV cooking show. And while she takes cooking very seriously, she also embarks plenty of lessons to her mostly female audience.
Elizabeth is such an engaging protagonist. I don’t think I’ve ever read one quite like her before. She’s extremely serious and to the point. She’s very intelligent and tired of dealing with other people’s bad behavior. Elizabeth shows her vulnerable side only on rare occasions.
While the story is quirky and the writing is clever and humorous at parts, there are some serious topics addressed. Including a couple scenes that deserve a trigger warning, which I did not anticipate. I do think the cover, while cute, is a bit misleading in some ways.
I liked reading about Elizabeth’s journey and what she is able to overcome is inspiring. However, I would have liked to have seen more scenes with her daughter. And I do think it took too long to arrive at the TV show component.
I will say, the supporting cast is outstanding—probably one of the best I’ve read in a long time.
Supper at Six
You’ll be entertained by how Elizabeth got herself a cooking show! And she does not want to follow any direction from her producer, Walter. She takes matters in her own hands and combines her love and knowledge of chemistry to teach her audience how to cook and much more. Each episode serves as a life lesson of some sorts.
I felt this part was so vivid that it almost felt like it was a real show! I can’t only imagine the impact if a show like this had existed in the ’60s.
All in all, I really liked the novel. Not a perfect execution but I do think it’s a unique and very entertaining story.
For book clubs, check out my discussion questions here.