Friday, April 15, 2022
Book Review: "Lessons in Chemistry" by Bonnie Garmus
Elizabeth Zott is a chemist with a bright future. But not as a chemist, because as a woman in the 1960s, her intelligence and ambition aren’t appreciated or encouraged. She confronts indignity after indignity, and although she gets a position at the Hastings Research Institute, her contributions are not welcomed, even though she’s the only one who actually knows anything.
At Hastings she encounters Calvin Evans, a brilliant, famous scientist known for holding grudges and his obsession with rowing. After an awkward (and messy) encounter at the opera, the two fall for each other. And although Calvin loves Elizabeth as much for her mind as everything else, their relationship only serves to further denigrate her in the minds of her colleagues.
Somehow, a few years later, Elizabeth is now the host of a television cooking show, “Supper at Six.” (Cooking is chemistry, after all.) But despite the network’s wishes, she’s not quite the happy housewife on television—she’s telling women about covalent bonds and adding sodium chloride (salt) to their food. At the same time, she’s teaching women that they’re not JUST housewives, but they’re capable of so much more. And while that makes her popular, it also makes her a target.
This was just absolutely fantastic. Elizabeth is a remarkable character—funny, stubborn, brash, and yet remarkably sensitive. This is a beautiful story about love and family and standing up for what is right, but it’s also about the unfairness of society towards anyone who doesn’t fit a specific mold, particularly in the 1960s. And Six-Thirty was the absolute best! (IYKYK)
I won’t forget this book anytime soon.