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Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel by…
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Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Maria Semple

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,3522092,673 (4)282
Member:Hans_Verstraelen
Title:Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel
Authors:Maria Semple
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2012), Editie: First Edition, Hardcover, 336 pagina's
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

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

  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 282 mentions

English (206)  Danish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (209)
Showing 1-5 of 206 (next | show all)
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 |
Quirky but fun read ( )
  suzabelle | Aug 14, 2014 |
Bernadette was once a brilliant architect, but some mysterious event caused her to buy an old rundown private school in Seattle and move there with her husband and daughter. With grand plans of restoring the old place into a beautiful home for her family, she has instead become mired in bitterness and weighted with regret and found herself living in a broken and crumbling building. However she is proud of her husband Elgie, although he may not always be clear on just how much he means to his wife, and Bernadette absolutely adores her daughter Bee, who is a truly bright child and charms everyone who knows her. Bernadette just seems to have lost her way a bit.

Elgie is a trailblazer working at Microsoft, but may be best known for a brilliant TED talk that he did. He's reached a point in his life when he begins to doubt his wife and her competency, thinking perhaps she's gone over the edge. Then there is Soo-Lin, his assistant at work, who has begun to express an interest in him and made him feel special, and made him question his wife and his life with her.

At the request of Bee, the family plans a trip to Antarctica, but just as things come to a boil-- just as Bernadette finds herself betrayed by her husband and as it seems that all the world has turned against her-- Bernadette disappears without a trace.

This book is an organized collection of letters, emails and recitations of conversations. It isn't clear until the end just where all of this documentation originated, but it was a very clever way to develop the story. It allows you to build one perspective, and then read an email from someone else, and later get yet a different perspective.

My final word: This was a book club selection, and I did enjoy it. It wasn't a real thrilling or gripping story, but it was clever and fresh and original. It is easy to read, has a cast of colorful characters, and I enjoyed the snippets that came from letters, newspaper articles, emails, etc. The dynamics between Bernadette and the other mothers from school, as well as the emails from “Emily” (the woman in charge of organizing the school functions that the parents are involved in), all made me very happy to not have kids! This is definitely a worthwhile read. ( )
  nfmgirl2 | Aug 10, 2014 |
OK--this one is bizarre but I loved it.
Even though it started out being one of those "novels centered on letters and e-mails" that irritate, I enjoyed it.
8th grader Bee gets a good report card so Dad (Microsoft geek) and Mom (ex-architect) agree to take her to Antartica for a trip. The trip gets waylaid with the curious behavior of Mom and the neighbors and the school and well, she's just strange and when Dad decides that maybe it is time for a psych evaluation, she disappears.
Quite humorous (her diatribes on Seattle are hysterical!), didn't really figure out the religious aspects if they are meant to be slams or if it really is a person who is seeking and realizing that God makes people different ways, and of course the whole trip to Antartica. Cant' decide if it belongs in our library or not but it is fun. ( )
  carolvanbrocklin | Jul 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 206 (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.

(summary from another edition)

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