Anthony Strong novel places star-crossed lovers at the sex research laboratory *** 3 Stars
By Gabrielle Pantera
HOLLYWOOD, CA (Gosh!TV) 9/22/2009 – “I lost track of how many times people looked at me as if I were mad,” says Chemistry for Beginners author Anthony Strong. “I’d say I’m writing a romantic comedy about female Viagra set in an Oxford research laboratory. Oh, and it’s in the form of a scientific paper, complete with diagrams and citations. Doesn’t exactly sound like an easy sell.”
Chemistry for Beginners is the story of Dr. Steven J. Fisher, Oxford biochemist, whose closest friend is Lucy, a bonobo ape. Fisher spends his time in his research lab studying orgasms. He studies them, listens to them and analyzes them in his quest to be the first to find a cure for female sexual dysfunction. His Holy Grail is a Viagra-like pill for women.
Annie is a Ph.D student who’s never had an orgasm. Her test results in Dr. Fisher’s laboratory study don’t add up. Dr. Fisher gets to know Annie better to try to find out why her test results are vastly different from other women’s. As they begin to bond, will Dr. Fisher’s feelings jeopardize the research? What’s chemistry really?
“I was lucky enough to find a real-life sexologist, a lady called Cynthia Graham who’s worked at the Kinsey Institute amongst other places, who was able to point out some of my howlers,” says Strong. “It’s amazing how much stuff there is about sex on the Internet, once you start looking for it. And that applies just as much to serious, science-based sex as to the other kind. Scientists are very good about making their research papers available on services such as PubMed, so that everyone can access them.”
“I showed an early draft to a friend who’s since become a very successful Hollywood director, Tom Vaughan, and rather to my surprise, he loved it,” says Strong. “He encouraged me to think of it as a three-act romantic comedy, which gave it a certain pace and structure.”
“I’ve been writing on and off since I was a student. The truth is it’s the only thing I’m remotely good at. I’ve done everything from writing brochures and what the marketing industry politely calls direct mail to travel journalism, film scripts and novels. All my other careers have ended in failure, bankruptcy or lawsuits.”
A worthwhile read. Chemistry for Beginners starts off slowly and with too much science. It’s worth it if you press on. However, the science would have been more interesting if the reader had more time to get invested in the story first. The book would be more balanced were it not solely the man’s point of view. It would have been fun to hear Annie’s perspective on the romance.
Anthony Strong is the author of two previous novels written under the name Anthony Capella. The Wedding Officer and The Food of Love have been translated into 22 languages. Strong was born in Kampala, Uganda. His parents were British colonists. Strong is based in Oxford, England.
Chemistry for Beginners by Anthony Strong
Trade Paperback, 352 pages, Publisher: Touchstone, September 1, 2009, Language: English, ISBN: 9781439108475