Frustrated chemist and single mother Elizabeth Zott is the reluctant star of a nightly cooking show called Supper at Six. But this isn’t the swinging 60s, it’s the sexist 60s, and with her platform hosting a program that even the President watches, Zott decides to do something about the way women are treated.
This break-out smash hit by Bonnie Garmus, became a New York Times bestseller, a London Times bestseller and has been translated into 42 languages. The world was charmed by the uncompromising Elizabeth Zott, her love of chemistry and her protective, anthropomorphic dog, Six-Thirty. The Apple TV adaptation stars Brie Larson.
If you loved Lessons in Chemistry, but it left you hungry for more, these are the books you need to add to your reading list:
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Also set in the 1960s, The Help focuses again on a different type of female-led revolution, with black maids Minny and Aibileen, teaming up with an ambition, aspiring writer, Miss Skeeter, to tell the stories of domestic servants amid the civil rights movement, in Jackson, Mississippi.
The female characters are all strong and full of compassion in their own ways. Minny has a fire in her belly, big-hearted Aibileen is inspired by grief and rage to try to change the world around her and Miss Skeeter longs to break out of her small town and pursue a career as a writer.
Author Kathryn Stockett drew on some of her own experiences growing up in the deep south to craft the story. Despite the serious subject, the tale is lightened with moments of hilarity and warmth.
Like Lessons in Chemistry, The Help was a debut novel that became a word-of-mouth sensation.
Addition by Toni Jordan
This Australian story shares three things with Lessons in Chemistry: A compelling female protagonist, a charming love story, and a family mystery that unfurls as the story reaches its climax. Grace Vanderberg has a preoccupation with numbers. But her interest – nay, obsession – does not inspire, or delight her. Instead, it is a hindrance. She must count everything. From poppy seeds in her cake to the number of letters in her dreamy new love interest’s name, she is held hostage by numbers.
Suffused with Toni Jordan’s signature humour and warmth, Addition, was long-listed for the Miles Franklin and named best debut fiction in the 2008 Indie awards.
Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This contemporary novel is about a tennis champion who returns to defend her record. Like Elizabeth Zott, Carrie Soto is uninterested in pleasing other people. Defined by her discipline, her exceptional talent and her devotion to her sport, she pursues her goal with a single-mindedness that is sometimes self-destructive. Taylor Jenkins Reid has produced some of the best-loved novels of recent years, including Daisy Jones and the Six, and she knows how to draw a reader in.
This book is a compulsive read. Once you step into Soto’s world, you will not be able to stop turning the pages.