Say hello to Elizabeth Zott – scientist, atheist, brain box, feminist, and single mum to a precocious kid and a dog called Six-Thirty. (The dog has a key supporting role, complete with hilarious doggie dialogue.)
Set in the 1950s, Bonnie Garmus’s quirky, smart, acerbic debut gave me an unputdownable readfest. One chapter in and you’ll be hooked. (The doggie magic-realism is an absolute bonus!)
In short, Elizabeth Zott, 30, is kicked out of the male-dominated science world and takes on a cooking-show gig to provide for her daughter… then ends up revolutionising the lives of millions of women stuck in their male-determined roles as mums, secretaries (and research lab assistants).
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and maybe you’ll take her advice that chemistry is about change so whenever you start doubting yourself, just remember courage has its roots in change, and change is what we’re chemically designed to do.
Garmus tackles huge subjects with an incredibly light touch that as a writer, I couldn’t get enough of, and found both intimidating and inspiring at the same time. Emotional subjects never descend into sentimental schmaltz. She writes crisply, leanly, with great wit and zing, and with huge intelligence that never bogs down the writing. Oh, and did I mention it’s her debut book at 66 years of age.