Martin's Must Reads: 'Lessons in Chemistry'
“November 1961. Back in 1961, when women wore shirtwaist dresses and joined garden clubs and drove legions of children around in seatbeltless cars without giving it a second thought; ...back when the big wars were over and the secret wars had just begun and people were starting to think fresh and believe everything was possible, the thirty-year-old mother of Madeline Zott rose before dawn every morning and felt certain of just one thing; her life was over.”
I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’’s Must Reads" and those are the opening lines to Bonnie Garmus’ novel Lessons in Chemistry. Beautiful and intelligent Elizabeth Zott is a chemist living in a time when women scientists were rare, dismissed and often sexually abused in the workplace. It is in one of these environments that Elizabeth meets and falls in love with a famous chemist Calvin Evans. Calvin loves all of her including her mind, recognizing what a gifted scientist she is.
When Calvin dies in a freak accident and Elizabeth discovers she’s pregnant, the company for whom she does research fires her. How will she support herself and her child? With no other options Elizabeth agrees to host a cooking show "Supper at Six", but with her own twist, teaching her viewers the chemistry behind cooking.
I loved this book. Garmus develops characters that are easy to love: Elizabeth with her unique cooking show, four-year-old Madeline who reads Dickens, their dog Six-Thirty who understands close to seven hundred words, Harriet the neighbor who helps with childcare.
If you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud story about workplace inequality for women, then you must read Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.