I’d seen a lot of buzz about Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus on social media before it was even published. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know what it was about, but I knew I wanted to read it! So I snapped up a hardback copy from Sainsbury’s as soon as it came out and I was so glad I did. (Buying books from supermarket is my top tip if you can’t wait for the paperback to be published. The supermarket sells hardbacks at about the price of a full price paperback.)
Lessons in Chemistry is quite simply a wonderful book. I loved everything about it. Set in the USA in the 1950s and 60s, it is the story of Elizabeth Zott, a chemist and reluctant TV host.
Zott is more intelligent and more capable than all but one man at her company, but as a woman, she never gets the recognition she deserves. She is judged for being a woman and a mother. Her colleagues all make assumptions about her – including that she got together with her partner on account of his fame, rather than for love.
For Zott, cooking is just chemistry. And as a chemist, she is very good at cooking. Somehow she ends up hosting a daily cooking show on TV, but she refuses to play ball. She refuses to read from the script or wear the ‘right’ outfits. As she cooks, she talks to her viewers, and helps them to realise that they too are far more than wives and mothers. While Zott creates a quiet revolution, the men behind the show are horrified, fearing that sponsors will pull out because of a presenter who speaks her mind and won’t wear a tight-fitting dress.
Lessons in Chemistry is everything. It’s a love story, it’s a story about feminism and sexism and it has plenty of humour. It also has the most amazing literary dog ever (yes, I love everything to do with dogs now).
If you are looking for a great read for summer, I can’t recommend Lessons in Chemistry highly enough. You won’t be disappointed.