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Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria…

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

by Maria Semple

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2,7842352,103 (3.98)309
Title:Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Authors:Maria Semple
Info:Thorndike Press (2012), Edition: Lrg, Hardcover, 487 pages
Collections:Your library

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. 21
    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.
  5. 00
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Though Sweetness is more of a traditional mystery, it shares with Where'd You Go, Bernadette an endearing, precocious, and entertaining young narrator who pieces together clues from the adult world to solve a mystery. Character interactions are delightfully, humorously depicted.… (more)
  6. 00
    Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (lycomayflower)
  7. 00
    Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell (kiwiflowa)

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English (232)  Danish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (235)
Showing 1-5 of 232 (next | show all)
An epistolary novel communicated through emails, reports, and notes, Where'd You Go, Bernadette tells the story of a brilliant, eccentric mother who disappears in Antarctica and her daughter's quest to find her.

Bernadette Fox was an acclaimed and original architect before disappearing to Seattle, where she renounced building and dedicated herself to raising her daughter, whom she loves fiercely. However, the "gnats" - the privileged, pampered, and PC moms around her - annoy her to the point of frustration and she finds herself in over her head when her escapades cause a snowball of events culminating in her disappearance.

Most of this book is ridiculous, hilarious satire - the PC school and PTA moms are especially riotous - that frolics along gleefully, but the antics seem to stall at the end. What should be a triumphant moment falls a little flat. Some issues are left dangling, without that satisfying conclusion. I actually flipped the pages, hoping for an epilogue, but was greeted by the acknowledgements.

Overall, however, it is funny, filled with razor sharp wit, and Bernadette is a fascinating character. Her emails to her virtual assistant in India alone are worth it.

If it weren't for the ending, this would have gotten five stars; it's still worth the read, but not quite perfect. ( )
  kittyjay | Apr 23, 2015 |
Bought this book to read on a plane and I loved it. Very interesting, tortured characters who are basically good at heart. It has been highly recommended to me here and I'm glad I finally read it. ( )
  mojomomma | Apr 21, 2015 |
Bernadette Fox was a up and coming young architect. A MacArthur Grant recipient, her Innovative Twenty Mile House (all materials used in the house had to be produced within twenty miles of its location either in their natural state or scrap from other properties in that area), was her masterpiece. Soon afterwards her world changed drastically. She and her husband Elgin moved from California to Seattle. He began a successful career at Microsoft which kept him away from home for long hours every day. After several miscarriages, she had a daughter, Bee. She never returned to architecture and lived in voluntary isolation from social contact, including her spending many hours in an Airstream on her property. This might be considered her first disappearance.
As the story begins, eighth grader Bee brought home a perfect report card. As her parents
praised her, she reminded them that they had promised her that if she had perfect grades at her classy school, she could have anything she wanted as a graduation present. She told them she wanted a family trip to Antarctica. After figuring the reasons why it wouldn’t work out, Bernadette and Elgin agreed to the plan.
Bernadette, who rarely went out of her home, called her virtual planner in India to make the travel arrangements. But, following a difficult couple of weeks and two days before they were to leave, Bernadette disappeared. That was her second disappearance. There was yet another one to come.
WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE explains the Seattle freeze which results in newcomers finding it difficult to make friends. The family lived in a snooty neighborhood and Bee attended an equally snooty private school. One of the mothers, in particular, seemed determined to drive the family away because they didn’t meet her standards and, with the help of other parents and school personnel, created a personal hell for Bernadette.
The story is presented in the form of letters and correspondence. It includes descriptions of Seattle idiosyncracies (“Parking in Seattle is an eight-step process.”) and Canadians “Americans are pushy, obnoxious, neurotic, crass – anything and everything....Canadians are none of that....To Canadians, everyone is equal.” The wit sneaks up on the reader: “Our fellow travelers. They were mostly old, with wrinkled faces and wrinkle-free travel clothes.”
The book is a quick, enjoyable, funny, adventure. ( )
  Judiex | Apr 20, 2015 |
A fantastic book! ( )
  grandpahobo | Apr 7, 2015 |
I listened to the audiobook, which is very well read. This is an "epistolary" novel, not one of my favorite formats, but very successful in this instance. A satisfying summer diversion. Somewhat uneven, but the hilarious moments more than made up for the occasional tedium. ( )
  LizHD | Mar 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 232 (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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When Bee aces her report card she claims her reward, which is a trip to Antarctica, but her mother, Bernadette, disappears due to her intensifying allergy to Seattle and people in general, which has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands and Bee uses emails, invoices, school memos, private correspondence, and other evidence to try and understand why her mother has left.
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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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