‘Where’d you go Bernadette’ by Maria Semple (3.5 / 5 stars )
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.
Where’d you go Bernadette is told through a series of emails, letters and other written correspondence with short periods of narrative used to weave it all together. It follows Bee as she tries to uncover why her mother has disappeared just before their family trip to Antarctica, and see if she can find her to bring her back.
I was able to read this book very quickly as the writing style is easy to follow and as the story is told through a variety of different methods (like letters and emails). I felt this made it more interesting than if the author had just chosen to write in the narrative.
The character of Bernadette however is very difficult to enjoy, whilst I don’t think the author means for us to love her, and it feels like the author is poking fun at these rich, private school mothers. However, as Bernadette is a difficult character to like, I found it difficult at first to care about why she had gone, or where she had gone. As you learn more about Bernadette, she does become a more interesting character (despite the fact that she said many things that I didn’t like). Sometimes, it is enjoyable to have a character you don’t love as the focus of a story, it can make it more interesting, and I began to find this towards the end of the book.
The writing style was funny and suited this kind of story and these characters, and I’m pleased that this was a standalone as we had a clear story arc with a few characters who were fairly well developed in the amount of story that we had.
I found this was an easy, fairly enjoyable read that was good for the summer,. However, I wasn’t blown away by the story and didn’t really find the characters that memorable.
Have you read it? What did you think?
Lauren : )