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Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel

Unabridged Audio Book

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Miranda Raison, Pandora Sykes, Bonnie Garmus

11 Hours 55 Minutes

Random House (Audio)

April 2022

Audio Book Summary

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GMA BOOK CLUB PICK • Meet Elizabeth Zott: “a gifted research chemist, absurdly self-assured and immune to social convention” (The Washington Post) in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show. • STREAM ON APPLE TV+


This novel is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel” (The New York Times Book Review) and “witty, sometimes hilarious...the Catch-22 of early feminism” (Stephen King, via Twitter).

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Oprah Daily, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek

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.

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Reviews

  • Bianca1976

    Loved it! This book was awesome to listen to driving back and forth to the beach solo! The narrator was amazing but the book as a whole was great! I’m glad I didn’t read the description before I started. It made it that much better. There were some quirky parts but they added to the fun of the book. Great read/listen!! And I just heard it’s been picked up as a series. Will watch!

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  • Patricia S.

    Excellent approaches to the times!

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  • Wendy M.

    A caution to readers, the author repeatedly insults the idea of religion, basically stating that people of faith are ignorant and misled. Otherwise, a good book with important messages.

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  • Andrew H.

    The same recurring generalizations and stereotyping throughout the book and continued into the authors interview. I kept waiting for a good story to appear. It didn’t. I was generous with a two star rating because 6:30 is a great character and I learned a little about rowing.

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  • Anonymous

    I was really excited to read this. Women in STEM during a time when it was not common and many barriers existed? Check! However, the whole time I kept feeling like the author was not sending a message with a story but rather forcing a message without complex characters. A strong and diverse main character who is a woman would normally be enough but she felt like the kind of woman who shames other women who like things that are normally seen as feminine. I honestly couldn’t finish it which maybe I should have but I couldn’t.

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  • Gina M.

    Interesting story depicting the challenges of being an unwed mother and female scientist in the 50’s/60’s. I thoroughly enjoyed Elizabeth’s approach to cooking from a scientific perspective. Loved 6:30. What a memorable character! It was unfortunate that the author chose to belittle and berate faith in God. Faith in oneself and others will always disappoint as will ‘religion’. If we are to embrace tolerance and equality, this book failed in that regard. God commands, ‘Though shalt not lie.’ and we see where that got everyone in the story (except 6:30)!

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  • Pam O.

    Simplistic, with characters I just couldn’t invest in.

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  • Anonymous

    I found this book to be intolerant of those who have different views than the author’s (Libertarians and religious people to name a few). The book will leave you feeling cynical, angry, icky, and judgmental. I think this book paints a dark picture of life, which would lead a woman to see her circumstances as hopeless. I would like to see a strong woman who is herself, but doesn’t put herself before those around her, especially her daughter!

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  • KristenLeigh

    This book is probably on my top five list of greatest books I’ve read. As a female in laboratory science myself I felt understood and appreciated. It was a great story and I loved the author interview at the end. The narrator did an amazing job portraying all the characters. Cannot praise this enough!

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  • Peggy D.

    Too many f words, spoiled it

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