Oh, Elizabeth Zott, how I wish I had met you.
Impossible, you may say, Elizabeth Zott is a fictional character. She can’t be known outside Lessons in Chemistry, the life-affirming novel that shows us we all have the ability to change ourselves – and the world around us – if we try.
I disagree. I’ve met women who change their lives by making decisions and taking action. It’s in us all, as Bonnie Garmus shows in this funny, poignant, and joyful story.
Elizabeth is a scientist – a chemist – in the 1960s at Hastings Research Institute where the all-male team wouldn’t know equality between women and men if it hit them in their faces. A very unscientific attitude to have.
The exception is Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results. Sadly, Elizabeth soon finds herself a single mother and the surprising star of America’s late-afternoon cooking show, Supper at Six.
Not only does she teach women to cook but she also dares them to change the status quo.
In her last show, Elizabeth says:
“Whenever you start doubting yourself,” she said, turning back to the audience, “whenever you feel afraid, just remember. Courage is the root of change – and change is what we’re chemically designed to do. So when you wake up tomorrow, make this pledge. No more holding yourself back. No more subscribing to others’ opinions of what you can and cannot achieve. And no more allowing anyone to pigeonhole you into useless categories of sex, race, economic status, and religion. Do not allow your talents to lie dormant, ladies. Design your own future. When you get home today, ask yourself what you will change. And then get started.”
Positive advice for any woman – fictional or not.
Five stars from me.
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