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Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2012)

by Maria Semple

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,2631992,829 (4.01)277
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  1. 20
    Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (LBV123)
    LBV123: Rifka Brunt's novel similarly traces a complicated family history and the story of a complicated mother with artistic tendencies, and features an interesting and complicated teenaged narrator. While not as openly chasing the laughs as Semple's novel, Tell the Wolves is nonetheless humorous in its depiction of family politics--and deeply touching as it deals with both love and loss.… (more)
  2. 20
    Microserfs by Douglas Coupland (cransell)
    cransell: Two fictional looks at working at Microsoft.
  3. 10
    The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson (cransell)
    cransell: Both quirky, humorous reads.
  4. 00
    This Book Will Save Your Life by A. M. Homes (lizchris)
    lizchris: About the madness of west coast America

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» See also 277 mentions

English (196)  Danish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (199)
Showing 1-5 of 196 (next | show all)
Marie Burr
  KindredSpirits | Jul 10, 2014 |
I truly enjoyed the story of Bernadette, a stay at home Seattle mom, who literally stays at home, all the time, her daughter Bee, a young, somewhat fragile (due to a heart condition) teenager and Elgin, the husband of Bernadette and father of Bee who works tirelessly for Microsoft. Bee attends a school in which Bernadette thinks of the other parents as gnats, who hang around and bother her always trying to get Bernadette to be more involved. One gnat in particular, Audrey really rubs Bernadette the wrong way as they are also neighbors and essentially enemies. Ironically, Audrey later redeems herself which is a real twist. (I will say no more!) Chaos ensues throughout the book and a trip for Bee is planned to Antarctica with Bernadette and Elgin. Bernadette takes the trip alone and DISAPPEARS! And everyone wonders where'd you go Bernadette?!
This book is told in emails, letters and other correspondence which really makes it fun to piece together. Something is always happening and you can't wait to pick up the book again and again (that is if you ever put it down!). It was satirical and funny with on the edge of your seat moments. I highly recommend this fun, easy to read book. It was a real summer read treasure. ( )
  campingmomma | Jul 10, 2014 |
Here is a simple test to gauge how likely you are to enjoy Maria Semple's novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette.

In this quote from the novel, the title character explains why she kept her daughter Bee in her private school, even though she (Bernadette) hates the administration and the other students' parents: "So why didn't I switch schools? The other good schools I could have sent Bee to...well, to get to them, I'd have to drive past a Buca di Beppo. I hated my life enough without having to drive past a Buca di Beppo four times a day." (p. 135; ellipsis in original).

In case you don't have Buca di Beppo in your neck the woods, it is a chain of restaurants that features kitschy Italian-American décor. My local Buca used to have a shrine to Frank Sinatra in the women's room, complete with lit candles, but I digress. Here's the test:

  1. Can you relate to the sentiment expressed in the quote?
  2. Do you find this sentiment humorous?
  3. Have you been known to say things like this yourself?
  4. Do you know and like other people who talk like this?
  5. Would you like to spend 326 pages with characters who talk like this?

If you had mostly "yes" answers to the questions above (especially questions 1, 2 and 5), you are likely to enjoy this book. If not, then you probably won't. ( )
  akblanchard | Jul 9, 2014 |
A humorous novel of an eccentric architect, her Microsoft employed husband and intelligent, miracle child, Bee who live in wonderful Seattle. The daughter decides that she wants to visit antarctica. Just before they are to leave, the mother goes missing, the marriage is a wreck and Bee is mad at her dad. Yes, much of this story is over the top but I liked the story of a family that nearly falls apart only to come back stronger and healthier and I learned some things about Antarctica. There is a part of this stour that seems to make fun of the perfect life. I expected that I would feel that this was a waste of time, money (kindle) and credit (audio) but it was all right. ( )
  Kristelh | Jul 3, 2014 |
From my blog

Where'd you go, Bernadette is the best laugh I have had by a book in years. I had to walk away at one stage because I was crying with laughter. I controlled myself came back and started up again, so funny. When I found out Maria Semple is a television writer for Ellen DeGeneres, it all made sense. I was so pleased I gave Maria a second chance. I tried to read This One is Mine and I abandoned it, this came across as a different writer to me, so well done to her for having talent to write so differently and please a wider range of readers.

Bernadette was a fun character, some will say crazy, I will say eccentric at the highest level. The summary states is best, she fits the role of the eyes of the beholder. Bernadette with her daughter and husband live in a house that everyone else thinks is abandoned, and they are wealthy, but she is a brilliant designer so she is going to create the most amazing home right, sometime soon, it must be. You have to read for the true laughable understanding. Her neighbours and parent association do not like her and she continues to despise them also, calling them gnats. Is she infesting her own life or is the outside, or maybe she is just not dealing with a full deck, lol.

Bea is able to choose anything she wants after she Aced her report card and chose a vacation to the Antarctica. Her mom agreed but was having an internal melt down due to her lack of social skills. She was researching the freezing unlivable part of Antarctica instead of the vacationing part and built up a paranoia which had you laughing and also feeling sorry for her. The author did a fabulous job with Antarctica description.

Bernadette hired an online assistant, the suspense on where this relationship will end was jaw dropping funny. Yes, people can be so naive and stupid, I'm laughing just at the thought. Bernadette goes missing and the search and pieces of the story all start coming together brilliantly.

Maria Semple uses a unique style to format her story; emails, letters, school notes, detective notes, even bills to take us on the journey, there is no way you get caught up in the style because you are smiling, giggling and falling over yourself with laughter throughout the book.

Such a great read, I loved it and would highly recommend when you need a light hearty fun read.

This was a book club read and all 6 of us enjoyed it. ( )
  marcejewels | Jun 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 196 (next | show all)
The book stumbles a bit in the middle as it transitions from a scathing anti-Seattle manifesto into a family drama with comic undertones. But once the gears have finished their grinding and the shuddering subsides, Semple eases into her strongest work yet, allowing her characters to change in a way that suits the story, and not just shooting for an easy punch line or a sharply worded barb. In the end, with its big heart set on acceptance, Bernadette feels something like coming home.
added by Nickelini | editthe Stranger, Paul Constant (Aug 12, 2012)
The tightly constructed “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” is written in many formats — e-mails, letters, F.B.I. documents, correspondence with a psychiatrist and even an emergency-room bill for a run-in between Bernadette and Audrey. Yet these pieces are strung together so wittily that Ms. Semple’s storytelling is always front and center, in sharp focus. You could stop and pay attention to how apt each new format is, how rarely she repeats herself and how imaginatively she unveils every bit of information. But you would have to stop laughing first.
added by ozzer | editNY Times, Janet Maslin (Aug 6, 2012)
Semple is a TV comedy writer, and the pleasures of Where'd You Go, Bernadette are the pleasures of the best American TV: plot, wit and heart. (There are places where Semple really wants to be writing dialogue, and stretches the epistolary conceit of the novel to suit.) It's rather refreshing to find a female misunderstood genius at the heart of a book, and a mother-daughter relationship characterised by unadulterated mutual affection. If Bernadette is a monster of ego, Semple suggests, so are most people, when they're being honest. In her spiky but essentially feelgood universe, failure and self-exposure open up a rich seam of comedy, but shame can always be vanquished by love

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maria Sempleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Broeder, LindaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chichereau, CarineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Vicq, Fearn CutlerDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hayes, KeithCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leiva Morales, ÁngelesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilhoite, KathleenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Xie, JingwenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Monday, November 15: Galer Street School is a place where compassion, academics, and global connectitude join together to create civic-minded citizens of a sustainable and diverse planet.
The first annoying thing is when I ask Dad what he thinks happened to Mom, he always says, "What's most important is for you to understand it's not your fault."
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Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.
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When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled, and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her.

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