Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Book Brief: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

by Bonnie Garmus
 Doubleday Books, 2022
400 pages

audio edition  narrated by Miranda Raison
Random House Audio, 2022
11 hours and 55 minutes

source: library ebook, audible audio

Goodreads summary:

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.

My thoughts:

This is the  buzzy book of the season and with good reason! Elizabeth Zott is one of the most memorable characters I've come across in a very long time, and the supporting cast of characters (including the dog Six-thirty) is superb. 

...this was not the book I was expecting. The cover implies light and breezy, while the blurb describes the novel as  "laugh-out-loud funny."  I experienced something much more substantial and serious. Garmis offers some pretty grim social commentary on the status of women during the 1960s, which somehow feels even heavier in light of last Friday's Supreme Court ruling.

Lessons in Chemistry  is still a wonderful read. (Trigger warning for a sexual assault scene early in the novel.)  But I do recommend you read, rather than listen. The repeated mispronunciation of Jack LaLanne's name was annoying, but the mispronunciation of multiple chemical names/terms drove me to distraction. I had to give up on the audio and switch to print.

If you're looking for a summer read that's a bit more serious and will easily lend itself to discussion, I recommend Lessons in Chemistry.

My rating:

Sunday, June 26, 2022

A Late June Sunday Salon

Hello, friends. It's hard to believe we're approaching the end of June already... summer in Connecticut is in full swing. We're enjoying the town beaches, the parks overlooking the cove and river, and weekly concerts on the green. We've had visits from both NYC daughters, plus I drove to central New York to spend time with my parents... and get a haircut!

I've read some good books this month, too, but haven't managed to write about them. I'll post a full review for Lessons in Chemistry  and then a mini-review round up for the others.

Recent reading//

by Maggie O'Farrell, narrated by Anne Flosnik

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Julia Whelan

Current reading//

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

After finishing Kristin Hannah's version, I figured it was time to reread the classic novel about the Dust Bowl migration. I'm also planning to watch the Ken Burns PBS documentary.

Coming soon//

 It's that time... Paris in July is almost here! Tamara at Thyme for Tea and Deb at Readerbuzz are teaming up to bring this month-long event back to the blogosphere. You can read more about it and sign up here.

My new library book group has chosen The Book of Salt  by Monique Truong (set in Paris) for early August discussion, so at least one of my selections is set. 

Will you be participating?

Feedly update//

A couple of weeks ago I posted about my frustration with bloglovin' and began to set up a feedly account. That's working out well so far. You can follow up to 100 blogs with a free feedly account and, even though I follow more than 100 on blogluvin', I can now read my core group of blogs regularly.

I check blogluvin' periodically to catch up with the rest, but it still appears to be down more often than not...

The week ahead//

Next weekend is the 4th of July! Twin B and her boyfriend will spend the long holiday weekend with us and, of course, I am excited to see them. But... with all that has happened on so many fronts this past week, I'm not really feeling like fireworks, parades, and Yankee Doodle. Sigh.

How was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Weekly Update: June 12, 2022

Hello from southern Connecticut! We've been here just over a week and are finally settling in. We arrived in time for my husband to attend a few college reunion activities last weekend. One of our daughters and her boyfriend were here for a long weekend, too. Easy train access to New York City factored into our decision to purchase here and we're glad both NYC daughters are able to take advantage of it.

A top priority for me has been finding a new walking route, so last week I tried several. I enjoyed the variety and will likely rotate between three of them. Another route was especially scenic, but it turned out to be over four miles instead of my usual two to three - maybe I'll save that one for days when I have more time and energy!

Recent reading//

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

This was a read/listen combination for me and, unfortunately, not the 5-star experience I was anticipating. I'm waffling between 3.5 and 4 stars (a very good read!) and plan to post a review later this week.

Current reading//

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

This book has been on my tbr list for years, and about a month ago I purchased this beautiful paperback. It seems there is not a kindle edition... surprising! In this short novel, Rhys imagines the story behind the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. I'm about halfway through now and finding to to be atmospheric, tinged with melancholy, and very readable.

by Maggie O'Farrell, narrated by Anne Flosnik

Maggie O'Farrell is another author on my "must try in 2022" list and this is where I decided to begin. It's a read/listen combination that is mostly listening for now. I'm about a third of the way in, completely invested in the story, and can't wait to pick it up again!

What's up with Blogluvin'?
This was my week to try and get caught up with blog reading and I couldn't access my feed for most of the week! It seems to be a recurring Blogluvin' problem, at least for me, and I think it may be time to explore other options. Are any of you using Feedly? What do you think of it? I'll probably set up an account this week.

In the kitchen//

I was craving soup this week and tried a new recipe for Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup from Damn Delicious... and it WAS delicious! The recipe is slightly more involved than other chicken noodle soups I make, but well worth the extra effort. The only change I made was to use 8 cups (two 32oz. cartons) of chicken stock instead of 6 cups. This will be my new go-to chicken noodle soup.

The week ahead//

We have a few more home projects on tap this week. I'm planning to check out a couple more walking routes, while my husbands figures out bike routes. We're looking forward to our  other NYC daughter's visit sometime midweek... she and her boyfriend are the only two who haven't seen the new place yet. I'm sure she'll also help me plan something special for Father's Day next Sunday.

How was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.


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