First Chapters: Lessons in Chemistry (with Sarah Dickinson)
Today, Abigail brings on a guest who is an avid reader and professional book reviewer—and popular podcast host!—Sarah Dickinson. Together, they take a first chapter deep dive analysis of one of 2022’s most popular books (what NYT called the Best Book of the Year!), and one of their favorite reads in 2022: LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus.
This episode is particularly fun since Sarah, as a reader, shares her analysis based on her reaction as a reader, paired with Abigail's editorial viewpoint.
Come listen to their analysis as they breakdown big first and second chapter hooks like:
How the prologue in disguise might not quite work as a scene with a value change—but absolutely hooks readers and works as an engaging, rich opening
Elizabeth Zott, the logical, confident, and depressed chemist/celebrity chef who exemplifies a well-developed character and has inspired countless readers
How the first two chapters encapsulate so much of what readers need to know in order to embrace the big picture
The smart execution of POV and how sharing multiple perspectives about Elizabeth Zott electrified her character (and the story)
A breakdown of the scene structure for chapter two (what we called the official chapter one)
What Bonnie Garmus hopes women readers take away from LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY, and what she hopes men take away from it
Email Abigail with your thoughts or share on social media and tag her. Let's continue the conversation!
LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus (pulled from Amazon)
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.
But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.
Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.
Listen to Sarah's Podcast (and episode with Bonnie Grams):
Find Abigail and Sarah: