I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.
Published: April 2022
Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.
But it’s the 1960s, and despite the fact that she is a scientist, her male peers are very unscientific when it comes to equality. The only good thing to happen on her road to professional fulfilment is a run-in with famous colleague Calvin Evans, legend and Nobel nominee. He’s also awkward, kind and tenacious. Theirs is true chemistry.
But life is never predictable and three years later Elizabeth Zott is an unwed, single mother and star of America’s best-loved cooking show Supper at Six. Her singular approach to cooking – ‘take one pint of H2O and add a pinch of sodium chloride’ – and empowering message prove revolutionary. Because Elizabeth isn’t just teaching housewives how to cook, but how to change their lives.
I’m always a little wary of over-hyped books, and I’d been seeing Lessons in Chemistry around the BookTwitter/Bookstagram sphere A LOT. However, I needn’t have worried, because reading it was an absolute blast.
Elizabeth Zott is an amazing main character. She is smart and confident, resilient in the face of adversity, principled and willing to fight for what she believes in. And boy, does she have to fight. I absolutely adored Elizabeth’s poise and ability to stay true to herself, resisting all her colleagues’ attempts at intimidating her or making her believe she should be less than she is.
While Elizabeth is fantastic and I could spend a long, long time talking about her only, she is surrounded by an equally amazing cast of supporting characters. Some I loved, some I hated, others I mildly disliked, but all of them were beautifully characterised and enriched the story immensely. Even some of the more minor characters felt wholly rounded and reading about them was a thing of beauty. I particularly loved Elizabeth’s dog, Six-Thirty, and the passages in his POV were some of the best ever.
The writing is another thing I really appreciated here, and I’m really impressed with how the author managed to build such an emotionally rich story on the foundation of a critique of society while tackling equality issues. Despite the fact that some of the themes could be quite heavy, the tone always felt perfectly appropriate and I loved the humourous, zingy quality it had. In some ways, it reminded me of Jonas Jonasson‘s The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared in its ability to stimulate the reader’s critical reflection skills through humour.
Lessons in Chemistry was a wonderful discovery and one of the times when, for me, the hype was right! It made me laugh, cry, feel, think, and want to take action while leaving me feeling light and with my heart full: all the hallmarks of a great book. One not to miss.
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