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Publisher's Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • A must-listen debut! Meet Elizabeth Zott: a “formidable, unapologetic and inspiring” (PARADE) scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel. It reminds you that change takes time and always requires heat” (The New York Times Book Review).

"A unique heroine ... you'll find yourself wishing she wasn’t fictional." —Seattle Times

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 as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes 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. 

But 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.  

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

©2022 Bonnie Garmus (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • ONE OF NPR’s BEST BOOKS OF 2022 • ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF THE YEAR—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.” —New York Times 

"Strikingly relevant...Darkly funny and poignant...Lessons in Chemistry’s excellent experiment [is] quirky and heartwarming." —The Atlantic 

"[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.” —Washington Post

What listeners say about Lessons in Chemistry

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Baby boomer editor needed....desperately!

Cringed every time Jack LaLanne's name was mispronounced. Scientific mispronunciations are less obvious. "PROOFLISTEN!".

41 people found this helpful

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Not funny; one-dimensional characters; unrealistic

I really wanted to like this book, but it was not for me. I thought it was going to be an uplifting tale about women in science, defying the odds. That was not the case at all.

First, the publisher describes it as "laugh-out-loud funny," but I guess I do not like to laugh at misogyny, death, and violence. The graphic descriptions left me feeling sick to my stomach.

Second, all of the men (except for one) are completely one-dimensional characters; their only personality trait is sexism.

Furthermore, the main character's views and actions are not realistic for the era. It’s as if a woman from today traveled back in time to the 1950s with today's ideas about social issues and women’s rights. The result is unrealistic and overly pedantic.

Lastly, all people of faith are portrayed as hucksters, liars, cheaters, and conmen, except for the ones who are betrayed as idiots.

Overall, I found this story nauseating, offensive, and disappointing. Reader, beware!

36 people found this helpful

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What a waste of time.

As a 60+ woman, I found this book to be extremely exaggerated. Not all women are geniuses and not all men are pigs. Had a good plot but was so focused on its message that the characters were unbelievable. If I want a sermon, I’ll go to church.

26 people found this helpful

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Soap boxing

If the book had just stayed with the theme of the inequity towards women I would have enjoyed it more. Instead, like many current novels, the author used the story line and the characters to work in every social talking point so it will appeal to the woke masses and sell more copies. I can barely read a novel that doesn’t find a way to do this. Do any authors write authentically any more? Every book I read lately lectures to me about the social talking points of the day. It’s getting really old.

20 people found this helpful

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PERFECTION!

I've listened to many hundreds of Audible books over the years and a fair number have been loved deeply. However I have NEVER felt compelled to write a review until now. I didn't know what to expect from this story - but what I got was perfection. Perfect reader, perfect characters, perfect story. Did I say it is perfect? I couldn't stop listening. Strong women, science, a dog, a kid, challenging/believably unbelievable circumstances. I gasped, I cringed, I laughed out loud, I took deep breaths, I pondered wise words... What a ride! I seldom listen to a book twice...this one I will. And I'll be buying the hardcover to have and to hold. I can't wait for the next Bonnie Garmus creation!

13 people found this helpful

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Making my 3 adult daughters read this

To say I liked this book is too tame. I absolutely loved it. Normally, I only read murder mysteries, but my oldest daughter heard about this and thought I would enjoy it as a break from death and darkness. She was so right! Not saying this doesn’t have darkness in it, but I found myself hoping things would go a certain way, then wishing I would’ve thought the way the author did! The darkness wasn’t devastating. IMO

I was worried I wouldn’t like the technical side, but it made me feel encouraged that I could understand and even relate. Elizabeth reminded me a little of Beth Harmon in The Queens Gambit.

Bonus was 6:30, the dog. You just have to read this to get see what I mean. It kept me engaged to the very end.

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WOW

This is truly one of those books that I will listen to again and probably buy in print too. The characters are people I can’t get enough of. So much truth and relevance. Thank you Bonnie Garmus. The narrator was perfect.

10 people found this helpful

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Palpable, smart, and funny.

This is first book I knew nothing about, listened to the sample and didn’t hesitate to download. I did not regret my quick decision. The story was riveting and interesting. The narrarator was entertaining and made the characters come to life believably. I appreciated the author interview at the end. It made me love the book and the author all the more. Believe it Bonnie, you knocked this out of the park!

I’ve since shared the book link with so many friends. I prefaced the recommendation with “appeals to strong, smart, independent women.” It’s probably how the women watching Supper At Six felt: At last a book that speaks to me!

Enjoy the read!

9 people found this helpful

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A would that I had lived my life more like this.

A delight to listen to. I am 82 and cannot go back and relive my ml life but if I could, this novel would be a guide. Delicious, and thought provoming. was smart enough to reach HS chemistry but not BOLD enough to teach even higher.

7 people found this helpful

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Why All the Good Reviews??

I found this incredibly boring and could not finish. I even skipped ahead to see if it got better but it did not appear to.
Returning!

5 people found this helpful