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Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple~Funny!


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.


Published by:  Little, Brown & Company
Pages:  326
Genre:  General Fiction
Author:  Maria Semple
Find more about author:  Maria Semple
Purchase this book:  Amazon  and  Barnes & Noble


Maria Semple spent her first few years traveling around Europe with her parents. While living in Spain, her father Lorenzo wrote the pilot for the TV series Batman. The family packed up and moved to Los Angeles. After Lorenzo became established as a screenwriter, the family moved to Aspen, Colorado. For high school, Maria was sent away to Choate Rosemary Hall and loved every minute of it.
College was at Barnard, where Maria had big plans of becoming a novelist or a teacher. Those dreams got derailed when she sold a movie script to Twentieth Century Fox just after graduation. The movie didn’t get made, but she moved to LA and made a living writing more screenplays that didn’t get made. Maria got into TV when her friend Darren Star – whom she’d met on the ski slopes in Aspen years earlier – gave her a job on Beverly Hills, 90210. Thus began a fifteen-year career in television, writing for good shows like Ellen, Mad About You and Arrested Development. And bad shows you’ll have to look elsewhere to find.
Maria had a baby, quit television and finally gave novel-writing a try. This One Is Mine was published by Little, Brown in December 2008. Maria, her boyfriend and daughter moved to Seattle where her new novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, begins. Maria loves living in Seattle – thank you for asking – where she teaches writing, studies poetry and tries, with mixed results, to stay off the internet.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette was published by Little, Brown & Co. in August, 2012.




"Where'd You Go Bernadette" is a novel told from the perspective of a middle school child...but it's  not a YA novel.  It's also told from the perspective of her mother, dad and the annoying neighbor who acts upon Bernadette so as to cause a series of actions that changes the course of their lives.  Bernadette, is a character I can't soon forget.  She epitomizes the woman out of sync with the ordinary...she's the perfect antisocial heroine.  I loved her!

Maria Semple has employed the manner of notes and letters to tell her story to the reader and the characters within her book, which works brilliantly.  Hilarious in detail of the family's disdain for the mundane and cookie cutter neighbors and worker bees, this novel gives us a Bernadette who lives against the grain, hiring an Indian aide to out-source her household needs (and why not in this era!? LOL), calling the school moms "gnats" they're so irritating with their "sameness" and expectations, and becoming agoraphobic in a world that works counter to her genius organizational and architectural skills.

The book casts a caustic and humorous light on the Microsoft subculture with its lingo and corporate "family" mentality.  And, it gives us pause as it includes much about the environment and our relationship to it.   Bernadette's artistic and creative use of environmental materials to build her architectural masterpiece, and the extravagant wastefulness of the wealthy juxtaposed, is a great warning to us, as are the sections of the book on the Antarctic and its changing as the planet warms.

Ms Semple gives us a novel that's a commentary on the culture we live in today...often snobbish and self-absorbed, small-minded and selfish when it comes to our environment and our dwindling resources.  However, she also highlights the saving graces of spirituality, the love that binds people in families and friendship, and the enduring promise of true creativity and art.

This is a funny book...sometimes disjointed; however, but worth the read.  It's not always easy to follow in the last section as Bee and her father seek out the missing Bernadette.  Nevertheless, the end justifies the means and I found it a wonderful book to read and think about.

I highly recommend it.

4.5 stars                           Deborah/TheBookishDame



I always see this on bookshelves and in stores everywhere and have often wondered what it was about. Thanks for letting me know and it sounds different, in the sense it showcases an antisocial heroine. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I might even go pick it up. Happy reading!



I listened to this book and adored it!

Zaira Lynn

This is a very funny book which pokes fun at many institutions in our culture. Not for the politically correct.

Zaira Lynn (Skagway)

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