Friday, May 26, 2023

 Dear Great Book Guru, Many of my friends have been praising a book that came out last year - a book they say is very, very funny, very sad, and a book for our times. Any thoughts?   A Fan of Friends’ Recommendations

Dear Fan of Friends’ Recommendations, The book undoubtably is Bonnie Garmus’s LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY - a great favorite of mine and many! This debut novel opens in 1952 as a brilliant doctoral student Elizabeth Zott is ousted from UCLA because her advisor Dr. Meyers has sexually assaulted her and - in defending herself - she has stabbed him with a pen. Shortly after, at her first job at a  research institute, she meets Calvin Evans who - alone of all the scientists there - recognizes her brilliance and falls in love with her and her mind.  Soon into the book Evans dies and Elizabeth finds herself alone, jobless, and pregnant. Throughout the novel, she meets an array of characters - most sinister and craven but some extraordinarily supportive. At one point Amanda, daughter of a TV producer, steals the gourmet lunches Elizabeth has lovingly and painstakingly prepared for her young daughter Madeline.  Outraged, Elizabeth confronts Amanda’s father who is immediately taken with her brilliance and beauty - so much so that he offers her a job as a TVs celebrity chef. The show becomes enormously popular as viewers feel empowered by her strength and talent.  There is a Dickens-like feel to much of the book as Elizabeth learns of early abandonments and lost parents who reappear with large fortunes. Overall, however, this is a tale of women’s struggles in the workplace then and now. Highly recommended!

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