Book review

Lessons in Chemistry

Bonnie Garmus

In a few words

Set in the 1960s. Elizabeth Zott is an exceptional chemist at a time where women were expected to be housewives, and although she is employed at Hastings Research Institute, her talents are ignored and side-lined compared with those of her male counterparts — until she meets Calvin Evans, a lonely and brilliant chemist. Their happiness is not to last however, and Elizabeth finds herself a single mother which leads to her being fired by the Institute, and through a chance encounter, the very reluctant star of America’s beloved cooking show, ‘Supper at 6’. Elizabeth has an extremely unusual approach to her programme however – alongside teaching women to cook, she aims to empower women and encourage them to challenge the status quo and develops a huge following.

Great for

Those who love character driven novels – all are worthy of mention, from Elizabeth to Harriet (Elizabeth's neighbour), Calvin Evans, her daughter ‘Mad’ (Madeline), ‘Six-Thirty’ the dog, and a host of other peripheral characters. Also: the laugh-out-loud humour. Makes you wonder about all the real life women out there who were born ahead of their time – side-lined, ignored, or worse.

Why I love this book

I enjoy reading books about women achieving in traditional male areas, and I love Elizabeth’s successful efforts to empower and inspire through the medium of a cooking show. And the dog!! ‘Six-Thirty’ is a perceptive and intelligent dog that provides much of the humour, and you can’t help but LOVE him.  

My one criticism would be

Not really a criticism but some may not appreciate the semi-magic-realist aspect of the thinking, talking ( but only in its head!) dog – but I thought he was delightful. Can’t wait to see the film!

Cherie Gordon

Book Stock Coordinator

Cherie has read a large number of BDS titles through her book group and her role on the BDS Book Selection Committee. She is particularly keen on character-driven fiction, dystopian fiction and also those with darker themes.

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