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Book Review :: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmin

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus book cover image

Guest Post by Cindy Dale

Take heart would be novelists who are not twenty-something! One of the best debut novels I’ve read this year is Bonnie Garmin’s Lessons in Chemistry. Garmin is 64 and proof positive that it’s never too late! Set in the early 1960s, back when women were still expected to marry, stay home, and raise the kids, the novel follows heroine chemist Elizabeth Zott as she faces prejudice and discrimination head-on. This is not a rah-rah sisterhood woman’s rights novel, however. It’s a nuanced, very witty, thought-provoking novel on life and all its ups and downs. Elizabeth encounters plenty of both. She meets her soul mate, Nobel-nominated fellow chemist Calvin Evans, at a second-tier lab. When he dies suddenly, Elizabeth is left, (unbeknownst to her at the time) pregnant with their daughter, Mad. Calvin’s death results in Elizabeth’s ungracious firing at the lab after which she serendipitously falls into hosting a TV show called Supper at Six. Stubborn and unwilling to play the happy homemaker, Elizabeth turns the show into a chemistry lesson of sorts, infusing the show with lots of lessons on life. Oh, and perhaps the best character of all: Six-thirty, the family’s very smart and loyal rescue dog!

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmin. Penguin Random House, April 2022.

Reviewer bio: Cindy Dale has published over twenty short stories in literary journals and anthologies. She lives on a barrier beach off the coast of Long Island.

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