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Where'd You Go, Bernadetteby Maria Semple
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"A compelling composite of a woman's life and the way she's viewed by the many people who share it. A satisfying caper full of heart." Publishers Weekly
"The characters in Where'd You Go, Bernadette may be in real emotional pain, but Semple has the wit and perspective and imagination to make their story hilarious. I tore through this book with heedless pleasure." Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom
"Comedy heaven....This divinely funny, many-faceted novel...leaves convention behind. Instead, it plays to Ms. Semple's strengths as someone who can practice ventriloquism in many voices, skip over the mundane and utterly refute the notion that mixed-media fiction is bloggy, slack or lazy....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." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"You don't have to know Seattle to get Maria Semple's broadly satirical novel....Underlying the nontraditional narrative are insights into the cost of thwarted creativity and the power of mother-daughter bonds, although a reader may be having too much fun to notice." O, the Oprah Magazine
"Delightfully droll....Semple...cuts a wry slice of a life — one that's populated by private school helicopter parents, obsessively eco-conscious neighbors, and green-juice swilling, TED-talking husbands — and one that's sharp enough to make us feel slightly relieved about not having to live anywhere quite so bucolic." Vogue
"A smart, intelligent, nuanced tale whose characters will stick with you long after you finish the last page." The Dallas Morning News
"One of my favorite books of the fall....Delightfully funny...both antic and droll." Los Angeles Times
"Smart [and] entertaining." New York Times Book Review
"Clever, witty and laugh-out-loud funny. And that's a rare and wonderful thing." The Minneapolis Star Tribune
About the Author
Maria Semple's first novel, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, where she also wrote for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She escaped from Los Angeles and lives with her family in Seattle, where her second novel takes place.
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