Now you've read the book... what did you think?

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for joining the SL Book Club – we’re really excited about hosting the podcast next month and chatting to Caroline about all things Lessons in Chemistry.

To get you all talking – and to spur on chat for the podcast – here are a couple of questions for you…

What did you think about Elizabeth as a character? Did you find her inspiring?

What did you think about Calvin?

Did you like the way rowing played a part in the story?

There’s quite a wide cast of characters… who were some of your favourites?

Did you guess any of the twists and turns along the way? (i.e. who Calvin’s donor might have been).

What did you think of the ending?

What do you think happened next?

Are you excited about the TV adaptation coming to Apple TV+ this autumn?

And my burning question… what did you all think about the inclusion of Six-Thirty the dog?

Let us know what you think,

Heather & Georgina x


Overall I enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to the TV adaptation. However, when reflecting on your questions I find myself thinking it was pretty mediocre - the characters aren’t particularly likeable (perhaps on purpose?), I’m not sure where the rowing fit in with the story and the twists and turns sometimes felt very abrupt, instead of well thought out.

I did not like the inclusion of the dog - I thought it infantilised the story and took it from something I could enjoy / take seriously to something unrealistic. I also thought this of the idea that the child would be a genius and able to do things at a very young age which were simply unrealistic.

1 Like

Interesting! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I flew through this book, and I’m so interested to see how it is going to adapted this autumn and how Brie Larson takes on the role of Elizabeth. I found the use of Six-Thirty in the book so good, it wasn’t so much he was a talking dog, it was his thought process and I loved how we experienced certain things from his perspective - did you know he has his own Instagram?

I think the fact that the characters are quite unlikeable is probably done on purpose to somewhat understand how they portray themselves to the other characters in the book. With that being said, my favourite character has to be Mad Zott, I found myself chuckling to some of her anecdotes.

I did find the use of rowing in the book interesting. I couldn’t quite understand at first, but then upon learning the author was a rower it made more sense. Once you finish the book you can understand that the fundamentals of rowing that Elizabeth learnt was in a way Calvin setting her up for her life with Mad.


Six Thirty is my hero - I’ve told so many dog lovers about him! Forget the rest of the characters, just mentioning him to others has spurred them to get hold of the book. I loved it and developed squinty eyes not wanting to put it down. A book set before our time but for our times. A book that awakes our senses before modern day ‘Woke’ gets out its wrecking ball. Hurrah for Lessons in Chemistry!

1 Like

I can’t wait to see Brie in the role too! I very much trust Apple TV+, so hoping they do the book justice – will be fascinated to see how they fit it into episodes and what the cliffhangers will be each week!

1 Like

Love that! Six Thirty is possibly the best name for a dog ever.

I would say the first 3/4 of the book really had me flying through it but I feel it lost momentum.

I eventually got to a point where I found Elizabeth’s character infuriating and where there once inspiration, her obtuse views and narrative quickly drove me mad!

The shock of Calvin’s passing was a dramatic high point in the book. The overarching feminist challenge perspective was quite powerful and if it was on TV, id definitely be shouting in frustration!

I didnt give the rowing much thought but actually, it was quite fitting with Calvin and Elizabeth’s regimented perspective on life.

It took a while for me to see the twist but after that became apparent, I think the story just lost momentum.

1 Like

Thanks for your thoughts! Really interesting… and some of them definitely mirror mine (I won’t say which yet, as I’ll be discussing on the podcast!)

ooh, so it IS coming to tv… I hope it is as enjoyable as the book.
By the way, I like the inclusion of 6.30, the dog…random but different, and part of the story.

1 Like

Yes – you can watch the trailer here, if you’re interested!


Oo thanks for sharing Heather - it looks good!

My main question on the book, and sorry if this is a spoiler, but I still don’t get why she put Six-Thirty on the lead when she knew he would hate it and it would lead to something bad?! I don’t know if I missed something here but it seemed like she purposefully set Calvin up for something…

1 Like

I was desperately trying not to watch the trailer for the show until I had finished reading the book - I love imagining the characters/scenes etc in my own mind, and then seeing how other people would translate it.

I really enjoyed the book, I think it discussed a lot of very serious issues and I felt connected to the story throughout. It made me feel quite empowered, and confident, but also sad and reminded me that a lot of work is still to be done in terms of equality.

I loved that even though the story line was quite serious, I found myself laughing at a lot of lines, mainly coming from Mad Zotts, Three Sixty and Elizabeth herself. I also enjoyed the fact that all characters had their flaws, you would get annoyed at each of them at some point, like you would in real life.

At first I was a little confused by the rowing, but became a fan quite quickly - what an adequate sport for them, and I like that the author herself rows, a little connection to the author is always nice.

I also very much enjoyed how everything slowly became connected, and new characters introduced always somehow connected to another storyline/time. I know some find this a little cheesy, but I love a dramatic it’s all coming together.
That being said, I wasn’t sure if the ending was a little too ‘happy ending’ for my personal liking.

Overall, I absolutely loved reading this, I felt like following the life of a real fighter, I laughed and I cried and am looking forward to seeing the TV show and how they imagined the characters and scenes.

1 Like

Agree on so many of these points, Vanessa!

I can’t remember anymore but I believe its because of their neighborhood law that requires dogs to be on leashes?

Looking forward to this month’s recommendation!

I hadn’t seen the trailer but already I’m not sure…… I very much viewed the regimented characters in the same light as Eleanor Oliphant and Don Tillman (Rosie Project)…. I hope it’s good, I love a TV adaptation

Satisfying ! I’ll pass it on to my husband to read during our holidays.
The rowing is used as a binding agent for two characters who struggle with relating to people… a good analogy to friendship. If you’re not one with your team , otherwise you’re not going anywhere. I might be pushing it…
The dog follows its instinct, something that both Calvin and Zott struggle with outside the lab.
The ending was slightly disappointing. A kind of happy ending. Looking back a bit predictable.
What also was interesting was the place of women in society in the 60’s and compared nowadays. Though provoking …

1 Like