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Chemistry for Beginners

Chemistry for Beginners

  • reading group guide
  • 1award
In this charming, boy-meets-girl-in-a-sex-study love story, a clueless scientist falls for his most incurable patient and learns that romance is far more than a simple solution to a chemical equation.

Dr. Steven J. Fisher is fascinated by the elusive nature of the female orgasm, passionately proclaiming it “the last great unexplored territory.” But for all of his scientific candor about human sexuality in the lab, Dr. Fisher is really just a shy chemist who is a beginner in the ways of love. Trock, a major pharmaceutical company, has sponsored his Oxford research team to develop the first pill to cure Female Sexual Dysfunction, and Dr. Fisher is just weeks away from launching his miracle cure at their upcoming conference. When a beautiful and brilliant (and orgasmically challenged) Ph.D. student named Annie begins participating in his study, everything Dr. Fisher thinks he knows about women is turned on its head—and his research becomes more and more complicated with the addition of her perplexing data. Is it the pill making her feel this way, or is it love? What scientific phenomenon can explain the changes in his own feelings? With pressure mounting from the Trock, Annie’s mystery must be solved by any means possible. Cleverly presented through excerpts from Steven’s clinical study and Annie’s blog entries—Chemistry for Beginners gets to the heart of what makes us all tick, showing that love is in fact, all about chemistry.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439108475 | 
  • September 2009
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Chemistry for Beginners includes discussion questions and a Q&A with author Anthony Strong. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

For Discussion

1. Did you expect Susan, Heather, or Richard’s betrayals? How did you react to the discovery of their ulterior motives?

2. Discuss the many sexual relationships in the book (Richard and Annie, Wulf and Rhona, Annie and Simon, Steven and Annie, Susan and Heather). Were they all dysfunctional? How did sex affect their work environment? Similarly, discuss the romantic relationships throughout the story (Annie and Simon, Steven and Annie, Julian and Heather). Were any of them what they seemed?

3. How did the inclusion of Miss G.’s blog help to frame the story? Did hearing directly from her enlighten you and add to the story, or could you already adequately determine her perspective from the main narrative?

4. Richard Collins states, “For every action there is a chemical reaction” (page 33). Discuss the cause and effect of a few actions (and subsequent reactions) within the story. Consider the revelation of Susan’s diary, Steven and Annie’s awkward dates, and the slow unraveling of the KXC79 project.

5. In see more

About the Author

Anthony Strong

Anthony Strong lives in Oxfordshire, England.

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