Review: Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel by Bonnie Garmus
This is fabulous, funny though-provoking novel!
I want to start this review by saying that I thought that I had read some amazing books already this year, ones that I had given 5 stars, I was wrong, having now read this stunner of a book. My 5 star reads from this point forward will all be measured on this book.
This novel follows the twists and turns in the life of the heroine: Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant research scientist who is tired of being a second-class person just because she is a woman.
Elizabeth is a top-grade research schemist but can’t get treated as an equal [much less be lauded for being better than pretty much everyone in her department] and when they demote her and the the department head steals her work and publishes as his own she quits.
She meets her soul mate, Calvin Evans, who treats her as an equal partner and recognizes her brilliance. They get a dog and Calvin asks what they should name it. She looks at her wrist watch and says “it’s six thirty” and so it was. This is typical of her most unemotionally rational approach to everyday nonsense, for example that women should wear comfortable clothes and all the other ridiculous (and irrational) social “rules”.
By a crazy circumstance she ends up doing an afternoon cooking show “Supper at Six”. They wanted the usual mostly air-headed afternoon cooking show based on the assumption that bored housewives didn’t want to bothered with substantial programming, Zott would have none of it. She basically assumed that long-underestimated housewives deserved to be treated as smart people who have been rudely sidelined and should be *taught* what cooking was all about.
This makes the show’s producer go apoplectic but the show was a hit! She was right: women didn’t like being talked down to. She insisted on using “sodium chloride”. She described dished by explaining the chemical reactions that made them happen. And the viewing audience [and the women *crowding* into
studio to watch it live] loved it. Instead of having the quick death that the producer expected, it was a smash hit. It got syndicated around the country and she was a national hero — among women. They not only learned to cook the dishes and the chemistry behind it, but also that they had been treated as second class citizens.. and minds…for far too long.
LIfe magazine was going to do a cover story about her and they assumed that it’d be the usual pry into their personal life and get cute anecdotes for a feel-good story about a surprising TV star. The reporter who was interviewing her got gobsmacked by her and didn’t write the article that Life expected:
Despite what Elizabeth Zott will tell you, Supper at Six is not just an introduction
to chemistry, he wrote that day on the plane. It’s a thirty-minute, five-day-a-week
lesson in life. And not in who we are or what we’re made of, but rather, who we’re
capable of becoming.
For more information, visit Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3VSbA12