Lessons in Chemistry (Audiobook) – Bonnie Garmus (Author), Miranda Raison (Narrator) (BOOKGROUP) – 29.07.22

This was my book group read for over the Summer, and I chose to listen to the audiobook. I’ll admit that it took me a wee while to get into the book, and the early chapters had me annoyed at how beautiful the main character, Elizabeth Zott had to be and thought her relationship with Calvin was just another rom com thing. I was wrong.

Elizabeth Zott is a beautiful, extremely intelligent, plain spoken (probably on the autism spectrum. although this is not blatantly spelled out) woman trying to be taken seriously as a scientist in 1960s America.

She faces huge obstacles from her work being mocked and also stolen by her less intelligent male colleagues to being shamed and judged when she is sexually abused with the attitude of ‘well, what do you expect if you insist on putting yourself in a man’s place’.

The story is told from different points of view, including sections narrated by the dog ‘Six-Thirty’ who would probably be the most intelligent dog ever in the history of dogs, but who is wise and very likable!

I ended up really liking the book – even going on really long walks just so I could enjoy listening to the audiobook as I went!

At times the characters were a little caricatured – the baddies were super bad and the goodies were super good, but I think that only added to the charm, or fairy tale aspects of the story, and in fact it seems that in real life some people really are ‘super bad’ or ‘super good’.

(As an interesting aside, my hubby and I were talking about this very thing recently – he thinks that the existence of really wicked people proves the existence of supernatural angelic and demonic forces, but I disagreed. My argument is that if behavioural traits exist on a normal bell curve, then you would expect outliers at either end (ie a few people who are really good or really bad). It’s like probability. If something happens a million times, then we shouldn’t be surprised by a really rare ‘million to one’ thing happening one of those times – it doesn’t mean it’s a miracle, it’s just chance.) Anyway – back to the book…

Even though what women faced in this book was extreme , and we’ve come a long way from there, the misogyny still resonates unfortunately in today’s world and Elizabeth’s character is very relatable. I also loved her neighbour, a strong older woman and I liked how they drew support from each other.

The story had sadness and joy and humour and I think it’s a great book (I liked the narrator too!).

Published by sarahrwray

I'm an erstwhile writer and forever reader and book reviewer.

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