eBook This – “Lessons in Chemistry” is a debut novel by Bonnie Garmus that explores themes of self-discovery, ambition, and love. The novel takes place in the 1960s and follows the journey of a young woman named Julia who is trying to find her place in the world as she navigates the complexities of life, love, and the pursuit of her dreams.
The story begins with Julia working as a secretary at a scientific research lab. Despite her love for science, she is often underestimated and overlooked by her colleagues, who view her as nothing more than a secretary. However, Julia is determined to make a name for herself in the field and decides to enroll in college to study chemistry.
As she embarks on her college journey, Julia meets a group of fellow students who challenge her ideas and push her to think differently. She also meets a charming and ambitious young man named Paul, who becomes her lab partner and eventually her love interest.
Throughout the novel, Julia struggles with balancing her passions and her relationships. She must navigate the expectations of society, the demands of her studies, and the complexities of her feelings for Paul. As she continues on her journey, she learns to trust herself, follow her heart, and chase her dreams.
Bonnie Garmus’s writing is engaging and full of vivid detail. She brings the 1960s to life with her descriptions of the era’s fashion, music, and social attitudes. The characters are well-developed and relatable, and their stories are interwoven in a way that creates a rich and compelling narrative.
Lessons in Chemistry Themes
“Lessons in Chemistry” is a coming-of-age story that explores themes of self-discovery and ambition. The novel encourages readers to pursue their passions and follow their dreams, even when the path is uncertain or challenging. It also touches on the importance of self-acceptance, the complexities of relationships, and the power of love.
Overall, “Lessons in Chemistry” is a well-written and thought-provoking novel that will resonate with readers of all ages. Bonnie Garmus has created a relatable and inspiring protagonist in Julia, and her journey is one that will inspire and encourage readers to pursue their own dreams and live life to the fullest. If you’re a fan of coming-of-age stories, historical fiction, or books that celebrate the power of love and the human spirit, then this novel is definitely worth a read.
About the Author
Bonnie Garmus is a debut author who was born and raised in the midwest. She has a passion for science and literature and has always been fascinated by the power of stories to inspire and encourage people.
“Lessons in Chemistry” is her first novel and reflects her love of science, literature, and the human experience. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and currently lives in the midwest with her family.
An Amazon Best Book of April 2022: If you’re looking for delicious hilarity, characters filled with competency and quirk, and pure entertainment, then read Bonnie Garmus’ exuberant novel Lessons in Chemistry.
Elizabeth Zott is an ambitious and accomplished scientist and is determined to be just that—and only that. But as we all know, life has a way of upending plans, and that’s exactly what happens to the inspiring (and at times, hilariously infuriating) Zott: Cupid’s arrow hits and the next thing you know she’s a mother and a TV cooking star.
But in changing the kitchens of 1960’s America, Zott also challenges the status quo and that’s not exactly welcome in some circles. Lessons in Chemistry is a lot of fun to read: giddy laughter will bubble up but so too will your respect and admiration for a fearless and strong-willed woman who dares to be herself, in any circumstance. —Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Elle, Oprah Daily, Newsweek, GoodReads, Bookpage, Kirkus
ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Bustle, Real Simple, Parade, CNN, Today, E! News, Library Journal
“In Garmus’s 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.”
—The New York Times
“Strikingly relevant…Darkly funny and poignant…Lessons in Chemistry’s excellent experiment [is] quirky and heartwarming.”
“The most delightful novel I read this year—fresh and surprising—was Lessons in Chemistry: a fish-out-of-water story about a feminist hero who never stops pushing for what’s right. (I laughed out loud!)”
—Philip Galanes, The New York Times
“Elizabeth Zott is going to be an important character to a lot of people . . . Absolute chemistry.”
—Scott Simon, NPR
“An irresistible buoyancy, along with a deliberately sharp bite. Garmus’s novel focuses on a female scientist whose ambitions are impeded—and then rerouted—by a world not yet ready for her.”
—Frank Bruni, The New York Times
“[Garmus] delivers an assured voice, an indelible heroine and relatable love stories…At the center of the novel is Elizabeth Zott, a gifted research chemist, absurdly self-assured and immune to social convention…Elizabeth is a feminist and modern thinker […] in a world nowhere ready for her mind, character or ambition…[Garmus] charm[s]. She’s created an indelible assemblage of stubborn, idiosyncratic characters. She’s given us a comic novel at precisely the moment we crave one.”
“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
“Between the outrageous sexism and the bitter misfortune that thwart our heroine at every turn, this may not sound like a comic novel, but it is. Full of charm, energy and hope—and featuring a really great dog—it’s one to savor.”
“Darkly funny and poignant, Lessons in Chemistry paints an extraordinary portrait of an unusual life in 1960s California…Irresistible, a gorgeous tribute to resilience and the many types of love that sustain us.”
“A kicky debut, this book tackles feminism, resilience, and rationalism in a fun and refreshing way.”
“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
“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
“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 fun, feminist charmer, Bonnie Garmus’s novel Lessons in Chemistry follows singular single mother Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant chemist in a man’s world—1960s America—as she becomes an unlikely cooking-show host and the role model her daughter deserves.”
—Martha Stewart Living
“[A] delightful debut…Elizabeth Zott, Garmus’ unflappable heroine, is no cheerily lilting [Julia] Child…[Garmus] skillfully moves her narrative forward and backward, filling in the empty spaces in Elizabeth’s story. It’s a novel full of dark moments…and yet Lessons in Chemistry feels richly funny…Elizabeth Zott is a unique heroine, and you find yourself wishing she wasn’t fictional: A lot of us—perhaps even Julia Child—might have enjoyed watching ‘Supper at Six.’”
—The Seattle Times
“Lessons in Chemistry catalyzes science, cooking, and humor…Elizabeth [Zott]—determined, practical, uncompromising—shines brightest.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“[Garmus] presents a rollicking feminist tale full of humor and hope even as she doesn’t shy away from life’s ugliness. Clever and sharp, Lessons in Chemistry has a winning formula.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Find this runaway hit where history meets humor. The book follows a chemist in the 1960s who doesn’t get the respect she deserves. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she becomes the host of a famous cooking show. With her platform, she encourages viewers to push the boundaries the same way she did at work.”
“A bold, smart, and often hilarious look at the value of so-called women’s work.”
“Garmus tells a familiar story in a completely original voice in her delightful debut novel…Zott is an unforgettable protagonist, logical and literal and utterly herself…The novel deftly mixes comedy and tragedy, with only one very clear villain: the patriarchal culture of mid-20th century America, the days of which are numbered because of women like Zott…For those who admire a confident, bone-dry, and hilarious authorial voice, this novel achieves the difficult task of being both sharply satirical and heartwarming at the same time.”
—Historical Novels Review
“If you can imagine Julia Child channeling a little bit of Lucille Ball, and all of the science edginess of Madame Curie, then you’ll have a really good idea of the humor and the wit and the warmth that just shine through this entire novel.”
—Minnesota Public Radio News
“I loved it and am devastated to have finished it.”
—Nigella Lawson, author of Cook, Eat, Repeat
“Garmus’ writing is extraordinary, and her insightful commentaries on life, religion, bigotry, misogyny and stupidity result in passages that are absolutely worth sharing…Be prepared to laugh, grieve, and root for Elizabeth.”
“[An] energetic debut…A more adorable plea for rationalism and gender equality would be hard to find.”
—Kirkus (starred review)
“Indefatigable and formidable, Elizabeth pushes the bounds of how women and their work are perceived in this thoroughly engaging debut novel.”
“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. Lessons in Chemistry is a story to return to again and again.”
“While the novel focuses on serious themes of misogyny, feminism, family, and self-worth, it never gets didactic. The characters are rich and original, the story sarcastic and humorous, and the novel with all its twists and turns, difficult to put down. Zott is aloof and amazing, rational and revolutionary. Like Garmus, you may even find yourself channeling Elizabeth, asking ‘Now what would Elizabeth Zott do?’”
—LA Daily News
“A smart, funny, big-hearted debut combining chemical elements into what seems a winning formula—one whose breakneck pace and gently ironic tone should appeal to readers of literary-commercial hits by American authors such as Katherine Heiny, Emma Straub and Curtis Sittenfeld.”
—Sunday Times (UK)
“Elizabeth Zott is the smart, fierce star of Garmus’s witty debut…Brilliant.”
—Mail on Sunday(UK)
“The enchanting story of Elizabeth Zott never belittles the offence of sexism, but neither – miraculously – does it ever take you more than a few sentences away from a smile, a chuckle, or a laugh out loud. Bonnie Garmus’ gift is to expose the sting and injustice of being a woman in a man’s world with a feather light touch that keeps our spirits buoyant and our hearts strong. I honestly don’t know how she does it. This is a remarkable book by a remarkable writer.”
—Jo Browning Roe, author of A Terrible Kindness
“A fabulous novel. Compelling, satisfying, a real page-turner.”
—Nina Stibbe, author of Reasons to Be Cheerful