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Lessons in Chemistry: The No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Between the Covers Book Club pick Paperback – 2 Mar. 2023
THE #1 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER and NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
OBSERVER'S 'TEN DEBUT NOVELISTS OF 2022'
A STEVE WRIGHT BBC RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB CHOICE
'Sparky, rip-roaring, funny, with big-hearted fully formed, loveable characters' SUNDAY TIMES
'The most charming, life-enhancing novel I've read in ages. Strongly recommend' INDIA KNIGHT
'Laugh-out-loud funny and brimming with life, generosity and courage' RACHEL JOYCE
'A novel that sparks joy with every page' ELIZABETH DAY
Your ability to change everything - including yourself - starts here
Chemist 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 early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with - of all things - her mind. True chemistry results.
Like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America's most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth's unusual approach to cooking ('combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride') proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn't just teaching women to cook. She's daring them to change the status quo.
SOON TO BE A MAJOR APPLE TV SERIAL, STARRING BRIE LARSON
'I loved Lessons in Chemistry and am devastated to have finished it!' NIGELLA LAWSON
'Elizabeth Zott is an iconic heroine - a feminist who refuses to be quashed, a mother who believes that her child is a person to behold, rather than to mould, and who will leave you, and the lens through which you see the world, quite changed' PANDORA SYKES
'It's the world versus Elizabeth Zott, and I had no trouble choosing a side. A page-turning and highly satisfying tale: zippy, zesty, and Zotty' MAGGIE SHIPSTEAD, author of GREAT CIRCLE
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This triumphant feminist fable, wittily observed, is teeming with vivid comic set-pieces ― TELEGRAPH, Fiction of the Week
Polished, funny, thought-provoking. Wearing its research lightly but confidently with sentences so stylishly turned it's hard to believe it's a debut ... The real pleasure is in the dry wit of Garmus's writing ― GUARDIAN, Book of the day
Not only is Elizabeth an unforgettable character, so too are her adorable dog Six Thirty and daughter, Mad. This is a truly unique book with some great life lessons ― WOMAN AND HOME, Best Books of 2022
A book that sparks joy with every page. LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY is both funny and rousing: it had me laughing one minute and air-punching the next. Bonnie Garmus has created an unforgettable heroine ― ELIZABETH DAY
It's the world versus Elizabeth Zott, an extraordinary woman determined to live on her own terms, and I had no trouble choosing a side. Lessons in Chemistry is a page-turning and highly satisfying tale: zippy, zesty, and Zotty ― MAGGIE SHIPSTEAD, author of GREAT CIRCLE
Full of humour heartbreak and characters who feel like real people. This is a book that everyone will be talking about ― RED MAGAZINE
I haven't loved a character as much as the hero of this joyful, warm debut in a very long time ― GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, Book of the Month
Absolutely unputdownable. I completely loved it ― RICHARD E GRANT
A transporting read, recommended for fans of Where'd You Go, Bernadette and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel ― STYLIST MAGAZINE, BOOKS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2022
In Garmus' debut novel, a frustrated chemist finds herself at the helm of a cooking show that sparks a revolution. Welcome to the 1960s, where a woman's arsenal of tools was often limited to the kitchen - and where Elizabeth Zott is hellbent on overturning the status quo one meal at a time ― NEW YORK TIMES
A fast-moving plot, zippy dialogue and wry sense of humour. A satisfying story with hateable villains and loveable good guys. Garmus's sparkling writing is a breath of fresh air ― SUNDAY EXPRESS
Elizabeth Zott is the smart, fierce star of Garmus' witty debut. Brilliant ― MAIL ON SUNDAY
Lessons in Chemistry is a vibrant and original story of hope and staying true to yourself. Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and brimming with life and generosity and courage ― RACHEL JOYCE
A timeless book. Elizabeth Zott is an iconic heroine - a feminist who refuses to be quashed, a mother who believes that her child is a person to behold, rather than to mould, and who will leave you, and the lens through which you see the world, quite changed ― PANDORA SYKES
THE antidote to life's current grimness: a shrewd, witty, inventive, feminist comedy you should all race to read ― PATRICK GALE
Entirely enjoyable, totally engrossing novel, Garmus' beautifully drawn characters, her polished, engaging prose and a hugely satisfying plot make for a glorious read.
Lessons In Chemistry is alight with warmth, wit and hard-won wisdom. Absolutely wonderful
Original and refreshing. Elizabeth Zott is one of those singular, unforgettable characters you don't come across enough in fiction. Witty and dark, it is both a breath of fresh air and a reminder of how much still has to change for true equality ― PRESS ASSOCIATION
Zott is a brilliantly realised character whom it's impossible not to love...[a] warm and addictive novel which cleverly and entertainingly unpacks the thorny questions around women's empowerment, the need to be true to oneself and why we should refuse to accept the limitations others try to impose on us. A triumph ― DAILY MAIL
Smart, funny, big-hearted ― SUNDAY TIMES
A fabulous novel. Compelling, satisfying, a real page-turner ― NINA STIBBE
Witty, inspiring and a joy ― I-NEWSPAPER
Feminism is the catalyst that makes [Lessons in Chemistry] fizz like hydrochloric acid on limestone. Elizabeth Zott does not have 'moxie'; she has courage. She is not a 'girl boss' or a 'lady chemist'; she's a groundbreaker and an expert in abiogenesis. . . To file Elizabeth Zott among the pink razors of the book world is to miss the sharpness of Garmus's message. Lessons in Chemistry will make you wonder about all the real-life women born ahead of their time - women who were sidelined, ignored and worse because they weren't as resourceful, determined and lucky as Elizabeth Zott. She's a reminder of how far we've come, but also how far we still have to go― NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
Lessons in Chemistry is a breath of fresh air - a witty, propulsive, and refreshingly hopeful novel populated with singular characters. This book is an utter delight - wry, warm and compulsively readable ― CLAIRE LOMBARDO, author of THE MOST FUN WE EVER HAD
A proper page turner which really made me giggle. It's so dry. The humour has a gorgeous lightness of touch. I really enjoyed it ― STEVE WRIGHT, BBC RADIO TWO BOOK CLUB
Original, fresh, tender, funny and warm. The story dances and swirls, captivating the reader from the first page. Elizabeth Zott is the most wonderful character. Just fantastic ― SINEAD MORIARTY
Strikingly relevant. . . Darkly funny and poignant. . . Lessons in Chemistry's excellent experiment is quirky and heartwarming ― THE ATLANTIC
A funny, thought-provoking revenge story. Elizabeth Zott is ahead of her time. This is such a great book, everyone should read it! ― SHAPARAK KHORSANDI
Garmus has made feminism not just palpable, but delicious ― I-NEWS
On par with Beth Harmon of The Queen's Gambit, Elizabeth Zott swept me away with her intellect, honesty, and unapologetic selfhood. Lessons in Chemistry is a story for all the smart girls who refuse to dumb themselves down despite a culture that demands otherwise. Though a creation of the 50s & 60s, Zott is a feminist icon for our time ― RACHEL YODER, author of NIGHTBITCH
A truly involving and uplifting book! Bonnie Garmus addresses serious topics with humour that is genuinely funny. I especially liked the dog. Mine only appears to know one word, which is 'supper', but there again she is a Labrador. I'm sure this is going to be a great success, and deserves to be ― ANNE YOUNGSON, Costa Book Award-shortlisted author of MEET ME AT THE MUSEUM
This incredible novel has EVERYTHING - an unforgettable heroine, wry humour, love, family and bucketloads of optimism and female empowerment. It's WONDERFUL ― HANNAH BECKERMAN
An energetic debut ... A more adorable plea for rationalism and gender equality would be hard to find ― KIRKUS (starred review)
Bold, smart and often hilarious look at so-called women's work ― REAL SIMPLE, US
Like a woman-centric "Mad Men" ... A witty and sharp dramedy about resilience and found families ... Readers won't be able to get enough of Elizabeth and her makeshift family. A story to return to again and again ― BOOKPAGE
Charming and emboldening tale with a vintage sheen... A thoroughly entertaining and emboldened look at gender in the 1960s. A must read! ― MAGIC RADIO, BOOK CLUB READ
Garmus delivers an assured voice, an indelible heroine and relatable love stories ― WASHINGTON POST
Elizabeth is a woman who challenges the norms of a woman in the 60s...her perseverance to succeed is enthralling. The fight to do what she really wants, and that alone, is one that'll have you rooting for her throughout ― STYLIST
Indefatigable and formidable, Elizabeth pushes the bounds of how women and their work are perceived in this thoroughly engaging debut novel ― BOOKLIST
Like a woman-centric "Mad Men" ... A witty and sharp dramedy about resilience and found familes. Readers won't be able to get enough of Elizabeth and her makeshift family. A story to return to again and again ― BOOKPAGE
A kicky debut, this book tackles feminism, resilience, and rationalism in a fun and refreshing way ― BUZZFEED
Every bit as brilliant as everyone is saying. Funny, clever, full of heart and wonderful characters. I loved it ― A J PEARCE
Unforgettable ... Elizabeth Zott is intelligent, fearless, determined and utterly inspiring ― CULTUREFLY
An absolute delight. Zott is a cracking protagonist - strikingly single-minded, socially awkward, fiercely determined to forge her own path ― FINANCIAL TIMES, Best Audio Books
Witty, fast-paced and unabashedly amusing' Lessons in Chemistry is 'written with charm, verve and piercing insight ... a future classic ― LITERARY REVIEW
The best book I've read recently. I loved it ― SARA COX, BBC 2 Between the Covers
I loved it. You don't want to finish it. You don't want to put it down. It's wonderful to hear a voice that has total honesty and clarity. I love that Elizabeth Zott is funny and hasn't got a clue that she's funny ― DEBORAH MEADEN, BBC 2 BETWEEN THE COVERS
I loved everything about it. There were so many things I could relate to ― STEPHEN BAILEY, BBC 2 BETWEEN THE COVERS
i couldn't put it down. It was so easy to read: hilarious, heartfelt. With all of the issues that we are still dealing with right now. Heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure ― SUKH OJLA
Laugh-alound funny, witty and provocative, LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY recreates the rampant sexism of America just before Betty Friedan's THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE and the bonfire of the bras ― THE TIMES, audiobook of the week
A funny, bigh-hearted read ― THE TIMES, Summer Reading Choice
I adored this confident, witty portrait of an unforgettable woman and her time ― DAILY MAIL, Summer reading recommendations
One of the smartest and funniest novels to appear this year ― THE NEW EUROPEAN
About the Author
- Publisher : Penguin (2 Mar. 2023)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 396 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1804990922
- ISBN-13 : 978-1804990926
- Dimensions : 12.7 x 3.5 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 6,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 April 2022
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Elizabeth Zott is a Chemist in the 1960’s, the only problem is that everyone else sees her as everything but that! Her male colleagues won’t take her seriously and see her as nothing but a woman who has ideas above her station. Although they are all threatened by her greatness and are more than happy to steal her work. All apart from Calvin Evans who is also a chemist and known for his greatness in the field of science. Calvin never looks down on Elizabeth and they start a relationship that would have beautifully stood the test of time.
Unfortunately life doesn’t always go to plan and Elizabeth finds herself alone and as a single mother. She finds herself presenting a tv show called Supper at Six, she uses this as her platform to give ‘Lessons in Chemistry’ to the women of America who she knows are meant to be doing greater things than being typecast as a wife and mother - she empowers them to do great things with their lives.
From the first to the very last word of this book I was hooked. Elizabeth Zott is an absolute legend of a main character, I was rooting for her throughout the whole story. This book is fiction, but it had me pondering on more than one occasion what it must have been like to be a woman at this time, I’m so glad that women like Elizabeth Zott make it possible for me to have the life and freedom that I have today.
Elizabeth is a very serious character, a bit like her story but it is told with comedic moments that did have me laughing out loud, especially how her daughter Mad got her name. She is such an endearing leading lady that you would love to have someone like her stood in your corner as your mother, aunt, sibling or best friend.
If you’re after a book that will leave your heart full, then look no further than this absolute masterpiece of a debut from Bonnie Garmus.
Oh and if you're a writer that enters the first 500 word novel competitions, take a look at how this author does it... what a masterclass.
And there’s more denigration. Elizabeth is in television where apparently women also have subsidiary demeaning roles - no acknowledgement of the real women front and back of the camera cue Lucille Ball, Julia Child and pioneering female producers just the unique Elizabeth. Of course Elizabeth is a dedicated feminist! She also has progressive attitudes on race - she even references Rosa Parks on air for goodness sake - so in this novel set in 1960s America how many people of colour appear? Well Rosa Parks gets a mention! Then apparently in 1960s California there is no questioning of religion (except of course by the exceptional Elizabeth) so when exactly was the famous Time magazine cover IS GOD DEAD?
The point about this book is IT IS NOT FEMINIST it is ANTI-FEMINIST as it ignores all the real women who went before Elizabeth or were there at the same time in order to tell us that only an exceptionally beautiful woman with a genius daughter (oh what a surprise that is) would have achieved anything at that time.
I can’t help wondering how many of the five star reviews come from people who weren’t around at the time and couldn’t be bothered to look up what it was really like - yes it was hard for women then and it still is today in many ways so don’t belittle the contributions real women (women not always from the white relatively privileged world) made in order to present an unrealistic comic ‘heroine’.