Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Elizabeth Zot has her work cut out for herself. A woman in the 1960’s, she understands facts, Chemistry, and that the fact that as a woman she will not be allowed into the scientific men’s club no matter how hard she tries. So, when she begins working at the Hastings Research Institute she is treated as a less than glorified secretary and gopher instead of the astute chemist she really is.

Calvin Evans is a brilliant prize-winning chemist who made the mistake of accidently assuming Elizabeth Zot was “just a secretary”. She immediately proves him wrong. As a result, they fall in love and become the fodder for all their gossipy co-workers who look at Elizabeth as just a gold digger who has a chance to marry well.

But Elizabeth and Calvin know better. They not only become partners in Chemistry, but in life as well. They are practical, organized and live a routine with their dog Six-Thirty who Elizabeth begins to teach words, which he seems to understand. They live in a happy test-tube bubble!

Until suddenly Elizabeth finds herself alone with a daughter no less, and her dog. After being fired from the Hastings Institute for being pregnant, Elizabeth realizes she must provide for her growing family. And through a series of what anyone else would call good luck, but to Elizabeth is embarrassing unluck, she finds herself the star of a… please don’t call it a cooking show, but…a cooking show called Supper at Six. So, Elizabeth does what she always does, and makes the cooking show about Chemistry, much to her producer’s chagrin.

But Elizabeth’s way of teaching how to cook is revolutionary to women, and needless to say misunderstood by men. When asked by a man why on earth she would want to wear pants rather than a skirt she responds with well why do you? As the show becomes more popular, she begins challenging the women who watch to become more independent and question their status quo, explaining they are able to do whatever they want in life. Needless to say, this does not go over well with some men and even some women!

But as we follow Elizabeth Zot’s unapologetic journey in life and the way she looks at everything so differently, especially for that time period, we are given a clear vision of where women were and where women should be and could be. An example her daughter exudes even in her young life.

Lessons in Chemistry is a wonderful, funny, heartwarming journey back to the past with wonderfully crafted characters, a beautifully told love story and many lessons to be learned about life.

Thank you #NetGalley #Doubleday #BonnieGarmus #LessonsinChemistry for the advanced copy.

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