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Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
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Where'd You Go, Bernadette (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Maria Semple

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,3992122,595 (3.99)286
Member:knitwit2
Title:Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Authors:Maria Semple
Info:Thorndike Press (2012), Edition: Lrg, Hardcover, 487 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Antarctica, Seattle, microsoft, annoying parents, disappearance, architecture, outsourcing, India

Work details

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (2012)

Recently added bylcr317, strongasanoak, private library, CCadwallader, MaxWebster, murderbydeath, AgentR
  1. 20
    Microserfs by Douglas Coupland (cransell)
    cransell: Two fictional looks at working at Microsoft.
  2. 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)
  3. 10
    This Book Will Save Your Life by A. M. Homes (lizchris)
    lizchris: About the madness of west coast America
  4. 10
    The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson (cransell)
    cransell: Both quirky, humorous reads.
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» See also 286 mentions

English (209)  Danish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (212)
Showing 1-5 of 209 (next | show all)
I enjoyed this more than I expected to. As is often true with "funny" books, I don't think I found it as funny as some people did, but the humor never grated or fell flat. I did find it amusing, and I was very invested in the characters and sad to the leave the world of the book at the end. I also sat up late to finish the last fifty pages or so, which is a rarity for me (because, no matter how into a book I am, I will fall asleep if I'm tired--I can't help it). An impulse buy that was well worth it. ( )
  lycomayflower | Sep 12, 2014 |
Told through a series of emails and notes, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is flat-out delightful. Intelligent. Unique. A story I was truly sad to see end with memorable people who felt like friends by the close.

It's hard to do justice to how funny Bernadette is -- and to be honest, I saw much of myself in her. Though I’ve been able to stave off agoraphobia so far, I’m quite happy to take care of most tasks online. Bernadette is a really fantastic, multifaceted character -- as is Bee, her hilarious daughter. I loved them both.

It’s hard to explain Where’d You Go, Bernadette except to say it was an enchanting, entertaining, wholly different novel about family and love with madcap adventures and crazy humor -- one I enjoyed from start to finish. Even months later, I can vividly recall many passages and scenes.

If you can get your paws on the audio version, I highly recommend it. Narrator Kathleen Wilhoite does an outstanding job as the many folks populating this great story, and I loved her interpretation of Bee. Though I’m sure I would have had a grand ol’ time with the print version, too, listening to the story was a true pleasure. ( )
  writemeg | Sep 10, 2014 |
For a book named “Where'd You Go, Bernadette” you’d expect the whole thing to be about Bernadette’s vanishing. And don’t get me wrong, she does vanish, but that’s just one of the many other little things that happen in the book and sure as hell didn’t feel like the main and most important one, even if I’m sure the purpose was that it should be (it was supposed to be the consequence of all that had happened up to that point and strictly speaking, it was, but it seemed way too forced to be called anything more than that).

The characters started off as quirky, especially Bernadette, but it didn’t take long to realize that they absolutely weren’t. Their personalities just seemed unnatural, like the author was trying too hard to make them look special and quirky and different and just completely failed. This was especially the case with Kennedy, Bee’s friend, which wasn’t one of the main characters or anything but she’s the best example on how to not shape characters into being (she didn’t make any sense and was just a pathetic excuse for a character, much like the others). Also, the long unnecessary descriptions.. oh my God, how do I even start on this. When it comes to descriptions or little side stories or curiosities that have little or nothing to do with to the plot, either said descriptions (like the description of, uhm, say, Antarctica and the freaking penguins or a damn work project) are so well written and outstanding they take your breath away, or THEY ANNOY THE HELL OUT OF YOU AND MAKE YOU WISH YOU WERE DEAD (guess which was the case here). As I probably said before, if you want to go on and on about architecture or microchips or how blue the ice is just write a goddamn non-fiction book on it and stop wasting my time.

By the time Bernadette disappears, I couldn’t be any less interested about what happened to her, partly because the story was dull, partly because I sensed (more like already knew) that it was going to be something utterly ridiculous, and it was. At least it was consistent with the plot and everything, I'll give you that, but this didn’t make the whole thing any less ridiculous and irritating. ( )
1 vote kairih | Aug 30, 2014 |
Semple has created a meta-fiction of family and creative necessity, cobbled from diaries, news clippings, bits of flashback, to explain where Bernadette, wife, mother and agoraphobic architect, has disappeared to - even though she really doesn't disappear until the middle of the book. This is a sometimes wildly-funny tale of a family of transplants to Seattle, complete with Microsoft, weather, private school snobbery, gossip, and a promised trip to of all places Antarctica. In spite of the multiple fictional sources, it reads easily, and it definitely made me laugh. My only complaint is a too-facile denouement. ( )
  ffortsa | Aug 18, 2014 |
Ridiculous fun. Impossible to tell where it's going. ( )
  jconnell | Aug 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 209 (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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