Where Did You Go Bernadette – Maria Semple

Where Did You Go Bernadette - Maria Semple

Where Did You Go Bernadette – Maria Semple

I have been meaning to read this novel for a long time. I keep a list of interesting books in Evernote for whenever I am out and about and feel like buying a book and this one was very near the top. I finally bought a copy from the book depository when they sent me a 10% of voucher. I’m glad I read it.

Here is the blurb …

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.

It is a modern take on an epistolary novel; emails, reports, letters, however, there is a bit (Bee’s section) written in first person narrative. Some sections are hilarious the whole section about encouraging more Mercedes parents (as opposed to Subaru parents) to send their children to Bee’s alternative school is laugh out loud funny ( it might be a bit too close to the bone for some parents!).

Bernadette doesn’t want to leave the house – she outsources everything to a personal assistant in India including handing over important and secret information such as bank details, passport information, etc. you can imagine how that goes!

I loved this novel, but I am in the ‘school run’ years – Bernadette would call me a gnat! – I know people like Audrey and other people who keep track of who has volunteered and who hasn’t! Plus I know people in the IT world – even at Microsoft. I’m not sure how it would work for people at a different stage of their lives, but I found the characters believable and the plot quite plausible.

Here is a link to the transcript of the ABC First Tuesday Book Club episode where they discussed Where Did You Go Bernadette.


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