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Where'd You Go, Bernadette

by

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Cover

ISBN13: 9780316204279
ISBN10: 0316204277
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"In her second novel (after This One Is Mine), Semple pieces together a modern-day comic caper full of heart and ingenuity. Eighth-grader Bee is the daughter of Microsoft genius Elgin Branch and Bernadette Fox, a once-famous architect who has become a recluse in her Seattle home. Bee has a simple request: a family cruise to Antarctica as a reward for her good grades. Her parents acquiesce, but not without trepidation. Bernadette's social anxiety has become so overwhelming that she's employed a personal assistant from Delhi Virtual Assistants Intl. (who makes '$0.75 USD/hr.') for tasks as simple as making dinner reservations. How will she survive three weeks on a boat with other live human beings? Maybe she won't; a day before the trip, Bernadette disappears, and Bee gathers her mother's invoices, e-mail correspondence, and emergency room bills in the hopes of finding clues as to where she went.The result is a compelling composite of a woman's life — and the way she's viewed by the many people who share it. As expected from a writer who has written episodes of Arrested Development, the nuances of mundane interactions are brilliantly captured, and the overarching mystery deepens with each page, until the thoroughly satisfying denouement. Agent: Anna Stein, Aitken Alexander." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

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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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 7 comments:

Gracie, May 2, 2013 (view all comments by Gracie)
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? is a charming, quirky, snarky, and highly entertaining novel about a charming, quirky, snarky, and highly entertaining family.

Bee Branch isn't your average teen. As a reward for her stellar grades, she wants to take a family trip to Antarctica. Bee's father, Elgin Branch, is Microsoft's rock star. Bee's mother, Bernadette Fox, is a once-famous architect who's now an agoraphobic woman who rarely leaves home. She has a virtual personal assistant from India to do even the most basic errands, so how is she going to handle going to Antarctica?

And then, one day, Bernadette disappears, leaving behind a jumbled mess involving hostile neighbors, wary psychiatrists, frustrated FBI agents, and her confused family. Bee is determined to find her mother and will go to the ends of the earth, literally, to do so.

The result of Bee's search is Maria Semple's marvelous novel. A combination of Bee's narrative, emails, letters, newsletters, etc., Where'd You Go, Bernadette? is a delightful satire of mordant wit and humor.
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seanh78, March 22, 2013 (view all comments by seanh78)
This is a fantastic comic novel where most all the characters start out looking awful, and come out sympathetic. It's simultaneously scathing yet gentle satire. The novel is part epistolary, part found footage and part real scenes, with commentary from an at once precocious yet sweetly naive teenage girl. Her parents, yuppie/Whole Foods/Stuff White People Like types are California transplants to Seattle, of the exact sort that everybody in the Pacific NW - even Idaho - loves to complain about, and the book gives ample justification why. The title character hates everyone and lives a life of isolation, farming out tasks to a virtual assistant in India. She disappears aboard a cruise ship when her husband attempts to have her committed, and when husband and daughter attempt to find her, the book switches more to mystery and lays off the satire. This is a bit unfortunate, because the first half, particularly Bernadette's fights with other parents at her daughter's exclusive prep school are some of the best comedic writing I've read in a long time. It's up there with "Confederacy of Dunces" or "I Capture the Castle."
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Lea Anna, March 19, 2013 (view all comments by Lea Anna)
I thought this book was hilarious. I love Bernadette's ranting on Seattle (even though my opinion of the city doesn't align with hers) and how unapologetic she is. I've always enjoyed epistolary novels with the different voices from all the characters. This is an extremely fun read.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780316204279
Author:
Semple, Maria
Publisher:
Little Brown and Company
Subject:
Humor : General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20120831
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English

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Related Subjects

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Where'd You Go, Bernadette New Hardcover
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Product details pages Little Brown and Company - English 9780316204279 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In her second novel (after This One Is Mine), Semple pieces together a modern-day comic caper full of heart and ingenuity. Eighth-grader Bee is the daughter of Microsoft genius Elgin Branch and Bernadette Fox, a once-famous architect who has become a recluse in her Seattle home. Bee has a simple request: a family cruise to Antarctica as a reward for her good grades. Her parents acquiesce, but not without trepidation. Bernadette's social anxiety has become so overwhelming that she's employed a personal assistant from Delhi Virtual Assistants Intl. (who makes '$0.75 USD/hr.') for tasks as simple as making dinner reservations. How will she survive three weeks on a boat with other live human beings? Maybe she won't; a day before the trip, Bernadette disappears, and Bee gathers her mother's invoices, e-mail correspondence, and emergency room bills in the hopes of finding clues as to where she went.The result is a compelling composite of a woman's life — and the way she's viewed by the many people who share it. As expected from a writer who has written episodes of Arrested Development, the nuances of mundane interactions are brilliantly captured, and the overarching mystery deepens with each page, until the thoroughly satisfying denouement. Agent: Anna Stein, Aitken Alexander." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
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