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.
Thoughts : Where’d you go Bernadette is one of my new most favourite books. I adored it more than I thought I would and it broke me out of a reading slump before I had the time to get into it. I enjoyed Semple’s writing style and I’ve already added her other books, This One Is Mine and Today Will be Different, to my TBB (to be bought) list.
Where’d you go Bernadette is about Bernadette Fox, genius architect, eccentric neighbour and confusing parent and how her involuntary revolution against the gnats (other mothers) makes her go poof. Sounds so simplistic and I feel stupid trying to review this book but what do you say when you love a book so much that you read it over breakfast and ignore your coffee. (A south Indian ignoring their coffee is a very serious thing, btw)
Bernadette fox has a very strained relationship with her husband but she seems completely oblivious to the turmoil he goes through as she navigates a difficult world. One where she can’t go out to do anything and hires a secretary all the way in India and one where she doesn’t spend any time bothering about “community” at her child, Bee’s, school. But that somehow only endears her more to you. Maria Semple artfully manipulates the reader to rise in defence of Bernadette even if we may not be anything like her.
The story is written in thoughts (bold font) and letters and emails between characters. Main thoughts being Bernadette, Bee and Elgin Branch but also of a couple of other minor characters that have a major role to play in the story. At first I almost put it away because I was sure I would dislike the format but it was a lot more interesting that one might think it’ll be. The style felt more like a voyeuristic view of these people’s lives with additions and contributions in their own voice. So delightful.
The story is an exhausting ride, but exhausting in a good way, between losing Bernadette and finding Bernadette. I adored every second of this book except for the last twenty or so pages where it felt all too nicely tied up with a bow. This is a quirky story that’ll keep you turning the pages and laughing and cringing at most of the happenings. I can’t write more and I’m concluding this abruptly because I want to shove this book in people’s faces and tell them to read it.
Have you read anything by Maria Semple?