I was expecting a book about, well, the Periodic Table, instead it is a collection of partly autobiographical, partly fictitious, partly historical short chapters about individual elements through the eyes of a chemist. It is very cleverly, wittily written, though at times rambles on incoherently. The chapters occasionally relate to each other and in general are chronologically sequential, while still being self contained. Lead, Mercury and Titanium do not really fit into this narrative which left it feeling a little disjointed.
It is not until towards the end of the book does Levi reveal the purpose of the work - to reveal to the world the way of a chemist's life. I enjoyed some of the stories more than others - Chromium in particular I enjoyed for its observations about the nature of people's desire to blindly follow without understanding.
Overall I enjoyed the banter, but was left a little befuddled. However it has opened my eyes to Primo Levi and If this is Man
is now awaiting me on my to read list.