How to describe this book? I think I’ve gotten so used to books with hooks or gimmicks that I found myself at odds trying to explain to other friends what exactly I’d just read and why I really hadn’t been able to put it down. The thing is, there’s not much of a gimmick here. Elizabeth Zott is a female chemist in a time when that’s not a thing. She battles sexism–unrelently, unmitigated sexism–over and over and over again in a way that would normally make you weary and unwilling to read more. But somehow, the book is unputdownable and the final victory (because, come on, you know there is one) is ever so much sweeter.
And sure, there are some other quirky bits to throw in as well. Elizabeth always wanted to be alone and have a kid, and yet she ends up a single mother hosting one of America’s most popular daytime cooking shows. In the middle there is a true romance, of the sort that is described in breathless whispers: a partner who understands what she wants and respects her for the brilliance of her mind. He does slip up every so often (less is said about when he asks her to marry him the better) but all in all, it’s a romance that really gets you in the feels.
And then, despite the fact that she is wealthy and famous, Elizabeth never forgets that what she really wanted to be was a scientist. So she tries and fails and tries again and fails again, and I don’t know what to tell you other than every step of the way is as delightful as it is infuriating.
If I had to nitpick, this is definitely the story of a white woman overcoming sexism in the 1960s–sometimes I’d be reading and think that this is basically Hidden Figures but with a white lady in the center. Elizabeth does make mention of the Civil Rights Movement, in a section where she unequivocally states on her show that she stands for equality, but it’s very much a popcorn-y story that doesn’t get very deep. Every evil doer, I can promise you, is punished.
But…sometimes…that’s what you need. Delightful book, would recommend whole heartedly!