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LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus

I have resisted reading this Book, because it was basically the “It” book of 2022.  Where the Crawdads Sing was the last “It” book that I read, and it did not live up to the hype.  However, Lessons in Chemistry may well be the funniest book I have ever read.  Although some tragic and horrifying events do occur in this novel, it is mostly the triumphant story of Elizabeth Zott, a chemist in the 1950s who is constantly victimized by misogynists, particularly in the workplace.  Being an unwed mother does not help, either, but she lands a job as a TV chef, where she eschews all the trinkets that the studio has provided as kitchen décor.  Instead, she treats cooking as science and even calls her home kitchen the “lab”—not exactly a misnomer, since it contains a centrifuge, beakers, and a Bunsen burner.  In one episode, she advises cutting slits in the top crust of chicken pot pie and describes how it will otherwise behave like Mt. Vesuvius.  The fact is that she is a terrific cook and beautiful as well, but her TV show largely focuses on empowering women to believe in themselves and what they can accomplish and shed stereotypes.  She also has a dog whose vocabulary numbers in the hundreds and an extremely precocious four-year-old daughter who stuns the kindergarten librarian by asking for books by Norman Mailer.  Of course, not everyone is as brilliant as Elizabeth, her daughter, and her dog, and I expect that some people will be turned off by Elizabeth’s attitude, which borders on arrogance.  I, however, as well as her fictional TV viewers, found her to be delightful, inspiring and courageous, although at times overly forthcoming.  What TV personality in her right mind would offer that she’s an atheist in the 1950s?  Speaking of the 1950s, I loved all the references to that era’s popular TV fixtures, such as the Jack LaLanne Show and The Huntley-Brinkley Report.  Garmus’s writing style, in addition to provoking laugh-out-loud responses, felt sort of breathless, or maybe that was just my reaction to the zippy pace of the novel.  I hope the author has another book in her with a heroine who leaps off the page like Elizabeth Zott does.


This post first appeared on Patti's Pages, please read the originial post: here

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LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus

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