Saturday, May 25, 2024

Weekend Cooking: Bonnie Garmus

This week I was lucky enough to go to an event at Melbourne Town Hall where "global phenomenon" Bonnie Garmus was the guest author. This was a very popular event with around 2000 people in attendance.

In case this name doesn't ring any bells, Garmus is the author of the hugely successful novel Lessons in Chemistry. I read the book and watched the TV series last year. 

Now, full disclosure, the food aspect of Lessons in Chemistry was barely even mentioned, which was a bit disappointing, but I thought I would still share. I do wonder if the session had been a bit longer this topic would have come up. Given how popular the session clearly was, I do wonder why it couldn't have been longer than an hour, but I guess that they had to allow enough time for the book signing as well.

The main focus of the conversation related to the feminist themes in the book. The author talked about how she wrote the first chapter after a particular day at work where she experience discrimination in the workplace. After a meeting where her work waspresented by a man as his own, she was dismissed and told to go back to her desk and finish a menial task. Instead, she went back to her desk feeling incredibly angry and bashed out the first chapter of the book that would in time become Lessons in Chemistry.

Along the way she touched on a few different interesting topics. When asked what her mother, who was a nurse, would have thought about the book she said she wouldn't liked the swearing or the fact that Elizabeth is an atheist. When asked what her kids thought about it, she mentioned that they didn't really realise that the book was a big deal until Garmus went to a huge event and was described as a global phenomenon, and from that point on that is what they had her down as in their contacts on the phone.

Garmus also talked about that whilst it might feel like Lessons in Chemistry came out of nowhere, it isn't actually the first book that she had written. She had a previous book which was 700 pages long, which no publishers would touch. And interestingly, before she even started, she had already written part of a story where Maddie Zott was the main character, but as a grown up. She talked about how that  made it easier to write the child version of Maddie because she already knew who Maddie grew up to be.

Another story that Garmus shared was about signing with her agent, Felicity Blunt. She told a story of being somewhat embarassed when she was talking to Blunt, who mentioned that her husband is an actor and her response was a somewhat dismissive question of "would I have heard of him". Given that Felicity Blunt is the sister of actress Emily Blunt and is married to Stanley Tucci, chances are that the answer is yes!

Whilst I was surprised that they didn't talk about the role of food in the novel there is no way that we could have gone through the whole conversation without mentioning Six-Thirty the dog. Appparently the presence of the dog was a source of contention between the author and Felicity Blunt. Luckily she won the battle, as it is difficult to imagine Lessons in Chemistry without the dog being present.

There is much more that I could share but hopefully this is a good taste of the conversation.

One thing I thought I would mention that at each of the last two author events I have been to, there have been hardcover  special editions available that are absolutely gorgeous. Here is the cover for Lessons in Chemistry. I didn't end up buying it but it was definitely tempting. 

I am also sharing this post with Sunday Salon hosted at Readerbuzz.

Weekly meals

Saturday - Pea and ham soup, bread
Sunday - Singoalese chicken, salsa and tortillas
Monday -Chicken, Bacon, Zucchine, Mushroom pasta
Tuesday - Takeaway
Wednesday -Spaghetti Bolognaise
Thursday - Pork chop, mash, beans and gravy
Friday - Takeaway

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. What a great post, I really enjoyed reading it. I thought "Blunt", isn't there an actress with that name, LOL. The book/movie is on my radar, but haven't got to it yet.

  2. I always come away from an author event happy. This sounds like a fantastic event. It's too bad the author didn't focus a bit more on the food aspects of the book.

    1. Guess they couldn't talk about everything!

  3. What fun! I agree the dog was an appealing part of the story but I didn't see why the daughter had to be such a genius. She could have been precocious without being improbable, in my opinion. Now I understand she had already conceived and was attached to that character. I will have to share this with my book group. I suppose Bonnie is sick of people asking what she is going to do next?

    1. She did say that she is working on something new. Didn't say she was sick of being asked though!

  4. I would love to have seen Bonnie Garmus, that must have been a neat event to attend. I did know who Felity Blunt is as I read Taste by Stanley Tucci, which is a great foodie book by the way. Love Emily Blunt in movies too :-)

  5. I love hearing stories from authors and those are terrific ones! Thanks for sharing them.

  6. I really liked Lessons in Chemistry, the book. I haven't watched the series. I was also so impressed by Bonnie Garmus' resume. It makes me smile when a person with a lot of life skills finally gets a chance to write a novel and they make it first time!

    1. She did talk to the audience about being published late in life. One thing that she said was the media worries about age but publishing doesn't really

  7. Mr Books & I have been discussing the merits of a weekly menu. Our recent move to the Blue Mountains means that I no longer walk past a supermarket on my way home from work everyday and we have to be a little more organised with meal planning.
    Do you have any tips?

    We've only managed it once so far, but completely over estimated how many leftovers we would have, so the first shop ended up seeing us through more the two weeks!!

    1. Hi Brona

      We sit down every Sunday morning and talk about what we might want to eat for the week and then do our weekly shop accordingly. This includes trying any new recipes we might want to try. The thinking around this is that we should throw out less food this way and that it should reduce impulse takeaway buys as well.

  8. This was a very interesting recap of that event! I tried to read the book but couldn't get into it, unfortunately. I might try again, just to read about the dog. LOL I didn't know Felicity is Emily's sis or that she is married to Stanley!