Bonnie Garmus’ debut novel, Lessons on Chemistry, tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, a 30-year-old single mother and research chemist living in the early 1960s. Elizabeth’s career aspirations have been stifled by sexism and she has been relegated to a low-paying cooking show called Supper at Six. Elizabeth is determined to prove her worth and will not be confined by the societal expectations of women in the era.
The novel is an engaging and captivating read, with an assured voice and relatable characters. Garmus weaves an insightful and humorous story that follows Elizabeth’s journey as she fights against misogyny and sexism in her attempt to make her mark in the scientific community. The novel is filled with complex emotions, as Elizabeth struggles to balance her ambitions with the responsibilities of being a single mother. The narrative is also enriched with references to real-life celebrities, such as Julia Child, providing readers with an engaging and realistic setting.
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In spite of Lessons on Chemistry serious subject matter, Garmus’ writing style is witty and lighthearted. Her use of dry humor adds an element of levity to the novel, making it an enjoyable read. At the same time, Garmus manages to maintain a sense of realism throughout the novel, delving into the issues and struggles of being a female scientist in the early 1960s. The novel also features a semi-magic-realist element in the form of Elizabeth’s perceptive dog, which some readers may find charming and others somewhat grating.
Garmus’ writing is polished and sophisticated, with sentences that are stylishly turned. The novel is a master-class of a well put together story, and Garmus’ research is evident throughout. The ending of the book is satisfying, and Garmus’s ability to make a funny book with a character who says nothing is impressive.
Overall, Lessons onChemistry is an entertaining, enlightening, and thought-provoking read. Garmus’ debut novel is well-crafted and captivating, and sure to charm readers. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a great read!