Set in 1960s California, this debut is the story of a female scientist whose career is constantly derailed by the idea that a woman's place is in the home, only to find herself starring as the host of America's most beloved TV cooking show.
... devastating and funny ... Elizabeth and Calvin’s prickly, funny and odd love story leaps off the page. The two are truly soul mates, and their happiness should be ordained, but life and this novel are far more complicated than that ... becomes a witty and sharp dramedy about resilience and found families ... The scope of what this iconoclastic woman goes through is breathtaking ... Not one moment of Elizabeth’s story rings false; every detail is a well-documented component of the time period yet specific to her experience. Readers won’t be able to get enough of Elizabeth and her makeshift family. Lessons in Chemistry is a story to return to again and again.
...sparky ... Garmus’s earlier career as a copywriter specialising in technology serves her well. Here, scientific theory becomes sparkling, sprightly entertainment. A delight of her rip-roaring, funny book is how it bonds familiar plot and character elements with the unexpectedly unconventional ... Garmus is strong on pithy observation. And stronger still on fully formed, loveable characters. There is admittedly quite a lot of whimsy (overblown character backgrounds, a preternaturally intelligent daughter and dog, unlikely connections). However, the pace never slackens enough for this to become irksome ... The result is a smart, funny, big-hearted debut combining chemical elements into what seems a winning formula — one whose breakneck pace and gently ironic tone should appeal to readers of literary-commercial hits by American authors such as Katherine Heiny, Emma Straub and Curtis Sittenfeld, or, nearer to home, Lissa Evans and Nina Stibbe.
... sparkling ... With Lessons in Chemistry, Garmus, a venerable copywriter and creative director, delivers an assured voice, an indelible heroine and several love stories ... There is an infectious absurdity to the book and its hero ... Could Lessons have been a few instructions tauter? Certainly. Garmus knows her characters from the initial pages. There’s little need to keep informing readers how exceptional they are or how adamant Elizabeth is in pursuing her truth. Also, every dog may have its day, but that doesn’t mean he need scamper through a novel as an astute fictional character ... Still, Garmus manages to charm. She’s created an indelible assemblage of stubborn, idiosyncratic characters. She’s given us a comic novel at precisely the moment we crave one. Perhaps, in her next effort, Garmus will provide a heroine who is more her peer, someone who would be a perfect role for, say, Emma Thompson or Julia Louis-Dreyfus.