Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus: Review & Summary

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Book Title: Lessons in Chemistry

Number of Pages:  400

Lessons in Chemistry Audiobook Narrated by:  Bonnie Garmus, Miranda Raison, Pandora Sykes

Listening Length: 11 hours and 55 minutes

Goodreads rating: 4.35  (507,523 ratings)

Published in: 2022

Lessons in Chemistry Book Summary


  • New York Times  Bestseller GMA book club pick
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Historical Fiction (2022), 
  • Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Best Debut Novel (2022)
  • Best book of the year: The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Elle, Oprah Daily, Newsweek, GoodReads, Bookpage, Kirkus.

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. This 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.


Praise for Lessons in Chemistry

“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 Atlantic

“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 GalanesThe 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 BruniThe 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.”
Washington Post

“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

Quotes from Lessons in Chemistry:

Whenever you feel afraid, just remember. Courage is the root of change – and change is what we’re chemically designed to do. So when you wake up tomorrow, make this pledge. No more holding yourself back. No more subscribing to others’ opinions of what you can and cannot achieve. And no more allowing anyone to pigeonhole you into useless categories of sex, race, economic status, and religion. Do not allow your talents to lie dormant, ladies. Design your own future. When you go home today, ask yourself what YOU will change. And then get started.”
― Bonnie Garmus, Lessons in Chemistry

Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun,”
― Bonnie Garmus, Lessons in Chemistry

Sometimes I think,” she said slowly, “that if a man were to spend a day being a woman in America, he wouldn’t make it past noon.”
― Bonnie Garmus, Lessons in Chemistry

Read more Lessons in Chemistry Quotes

Lessons in Chemistry The Creative Muggle Review :


I have been dreading reading Lessons in Chemistry for months! So when I finally could borrow it from the library, I was super excited to read the novel. I knew it was the story of a female chemist, but wasn’t expecting it to be so poignant and humorous!

The most fascinating part about Garmus’ novel, aside from its strong female lead, is her skillful use of dark humor. In my opinion, it absolutely complements the complexity of Elizabeth’s journey. It made me both laugh and cry several times. 

Also, I was extremely impressed with the portrayal of the challenges that women faced during the 50s and 60s. Amidst all these, Elizabeth’s burning desire to be seen and respected as a chemist is extremely powerful. While the slow-burn romance between Elizabeth and Calvin is cut short by tragedy, I greatly enjoyed their love for each other. Their unconventional and quirky love story adds an extra layer of depth to the narrative. 

The supporting characters in Lessons in Chemistry are equally fascinating, especially Elizabeth’s precocious daughter, Mad. Her sharp wit and enthusiasm certainly remind me a bit of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. 

Given that I was captivated by the story and characters, Lessons in Chemistry wasn’t a five-star read for me. (Although I wish it were).

There are a few parts of Lessons in Chemistry that were a bit draggy. Mostly where Elizabeth prepares herself to be the host of the cooking show. Similarly, throughout the novel, we get to see Elizabeth as a young fierce heroine. But I was hoping to see more of her vulnerable side during moments of tragedy. And when it comes to the overall format of the novel, I find chapters bounce between times and memories, which can be difficult to read at times. 

Nevertheless, Lessons in Chemistry is an extraordinary story that everyone should read.

The Creative Muggle Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

What to Read After Lessons in Chemistry?

If you have loved reading the story of Elizabeth Zott and looking for similar novels as Lessons in Chemistry that feature a strong female protagonist or explore themes of misogyny, feminism, and single parenthood, here are a few book suggestions.

find books similar books here : 15 Books Like Lessons in Chemistry

About Bonnie Garmus

Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked widely in the fields of technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open-water swimmer, a rower, and a mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Born in California and most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99. Lessons in Chemistry is her debut novel. Visit the website

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Stephy George
Stephy George

Hi I am Stephy ! I became a bookworm in my late twenties. So I created this little corner of books online to share my love of reading with YOU! I want to help you find the best books to read so you won’t ever have to worry about your next read!

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