The 1960s Were No Picnic for Women – “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus

Living through the 1960s was a challenge for women wanting to be seen as more than Suzy Homemaker. But the male-dominated hierarchy was all about maintaining the status quo and keeping their proverbial feet on our necks, thereby ensuring we never get out from under their collective weight. But then they haven’t met Elizabeth Zott, Chemist. Elizabeth is brilliant, totally unconventional and to her dismay, uncommonly beautiful. She considers her looks a distraction from her goals as a scientist. As an employee of the male-dominated Hastings Research Institute, Elizabeth is relegated to menial jobs and her ground-breaking theories are ignored. Until she meets the one man who is not threatened by her intellect, Calvin Evans. Yes, the painfully shy Calvin Evans twice nominated for the Nobel prize despite his near reclusive and grudge-holding tendencies. That Calvin falls in love with Elizabeth’s mind, illustrating the power of chemistry.

Laugh-Out-Loud Funny

As we all know, life is full of surprises and when Elizabeth finds herself a single mother nearing destitution, she reluctantly agrees to star in a TV cooking show. She’s always maintained that cooking is chemistry and, much to the producer’s chagrin, she decides to use that approach in the show, using the chemical names of ingredients and encouraging her audience to challenge the status quo. Her popularity explodes like a nova. Who knew?

Bonnie Garmus’ “Lessons in Chemistry” is a riot. Elizabeth’s science-based, yet offbeat approach to life and everyday living evokes a wide range of emotions, most of which are laugh-out-loud funny. Elizabeth’s offbeat sense is never more apparent than when a stray dog follows her home. Calvin asks about her follower as she’s looking at her watch and notes the time of day. Thus the dog is hereafter known as Six-Thirty. But it’s not all fun and games. There are also moments of poignancy, bits of wisdom and keen observation that we’ve come to expect from an author of Garmus’ caliber. If you’re in the mood for a rollicking good read, look no farther than “Lessons in Chemistry” due for publication April 5, 2022.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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