Historical fiction

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry

One of my favourite feelings of picking up random genres in succession, without paying attention to the blurb, is the thrill of meeting the unexpected. that might be too far-fetched a description, so I will try to explain it a little better. Obviously, I read the blurb before requesting to read advance review copies, but by the time I get to them, I do not have the exact details in my mind, something that I usually appreciate. In this case, I certainly did. I started reading this at night, not knowing I would struggle to put it away. I ended up sitting with it the first thing after my morning routine and not getting up till I was done. I was left with a mild headache, but it was totally worth it.
This story begins through the voice of a precocious child. Her mother is unhappy, as people close to her can see. She was born a little too early for her inclination (or maybe it is easier now, thanks to actual people like this). It is the 1960s, and our leading lady does not want to be a leading lady. She wants to work in Chemistry and be taken seriously for the things she knows she does well. Given the way things started, I did not expect the love story that I got. The narrative moves to a flashback to show us how the Elizabeth Zott we see now came to be here. The change in pace between the times did provide an additional depth to the narrative.
Elizabeth Zott fights tooth and nail to carve out a place for her and her daughter. There is sadness in the background but imparting knowledge the best way she sees fit is satisfying to her. The story feels like it would make a perfect series on TV (given that a chunk of it revolves around television). Their dog Six-Thirty is someone to watch out for as well.
The lead character is not perfect and has her own flaws, sometimes being as inflexible in her behaviour as some of her opponents in the narrative, but the overall writing effect and the characters made for an engrossing read.
There is violence mentioned that is hard to get past, something that feels very real and lingers throughout the book even when we hit the high notes towards the end. It is a fact that most average readers should know to watch out for.
I received an ARC thanks to Netgalley, and the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

5 thoughts on “Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus”

  1. Yes, thank you for mentioning the violence, it was RIGHT on the edge for me but once the first thing had happened I was nervous, and when I knew the other thing was going to, I was very hyperaware. I did very much enjoy the book though – as a fairy tale! – so that did outweigh it, just.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am a sucker for fairy tales 😄 ..i think i was in the right mood for this for some reason! The marketing was counterintutive. If they had sold it as literary fiction more people would have seen the attacks coming

      Liked by 1 person

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