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Product Details

  • Audio CD: 9 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company; Unabridged edition (April 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1478978945
  • ISBN-13: 978-1478978947
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.6 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,760 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"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

"Brilliant, hilarious, endlessly inventive, and compulsively readable, Where'd You Go, Bernadette grabs you by the collar and never lets go. Semple is not only a masterful juggler, and an astute social critic, she is a magician!"—Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here

"A delightfully funny book, that constantly catches one by surprise, Where'd You Go, Bernadette combines a shrewdly observed portrait of Seattle-life with, of all things, a mysterious disappearance in Antarctica. A pleasure."—Matthew Kneale, author of When We Were Romans

"It was only a matter of time before Maria Semple turned her hilariously wicked, razor-sharp, acid-etched humor loose on Seattle, and set her impeccable laser sights on the heart of Microsoft. At times a tears-to-your-eyes laugher that skewers my own home town (and quite possibly my own mother), Where'd You Go, Bernadette is also a compassionate look at family dysfunction, the paralysis of genius, and good old-fashioned parental love. Cleverly constructed and brilliantly executed, Semple has driven this one home with great authority, and has proven, once again, that she ranks among contemporary literature's finest satirists."—Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

"With a sure feel for the screwball and the slapstick, Maria Semple deliciously sends up the privileged, overachieving, PC world of Emerald City. Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a crazy quilt of an epistolary novel, utterly contemporary yet pleasingly old-fashioned, and always light and witty."—Stewart O'Nan, author of The Odds

"Where'd You Go, Bernadette is fresh and funny and accomplished, but the best thing about it was that I never had any idea what was going to happen next. It was a wild ride..."—Kate Atkinson, author of Case Histories and Started Early, Took My Dog

"Maria Semple dissects the gory complexities of familial dysfunction with a deft and tender hand. Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a triumph of social observation and black comedy by a skillful chronicler of moneyed malaise."—Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers

"In her second novel...Semple pieces together a modern-day comic caper full of heart and ingenuity....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 dénouement."—Publisher's Weekly Starred Review

"Semple's snappy writing and spot-on humor make this one of the funniest beach reads of the summer."—Meganne Fabrega, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"[A] high-energy, often hilarious epistolary novel."—- Brangien Davis, Seattle Magazine

"If you read only one book this summer about an agoraphobic mother and her broken promise to take her daughter Bee on a trip to Antarctica, make it this one....Semple writes like an oversized plume, finding all your tickle spots with ease."—Holley Simmons, Washington Post Express

"An uproarious comedy of manners"—People Magazine

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.

Customer Reviews

This book keeps you interested from beginning to end.
Nancy L. Webb
I guess It's like writing a book review; they don't want to reveal too much information, or maybe they just don't know.
Sue Averett
The characters are well developed and the writing style very creative.
Linda V.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

226 of 252 people found the following review helpful By drey on August 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Bernadette Fox is a wife and mother with anxiety issues. HUGE anxiety issues. It's so bad that she hires an offshore resource to handle her day-to-day errands - the ones she doesn't have to show up for in person. The less she has to deal with people, the better!

She wasn't always like this. In fact, she used to be a rising star in the world of architecture, back in the day. A genius rising star. Then something happened, and Bernadette ran from the world.

Her husband Elgin still loves her, and her daughter Bee thinks the world revolves around her, so Bernadette doesn't have any complaints. Until things spin out of control, and Elgin decides an intervention is necessary before it all goes to hell in a hand-basket. After all, it can't be good if the FBI comes a-knocking...

Then Bernadette disappears.

Where did she go? I'd tell you, but that would mean you'd miss the fun and enjoyment of reading Where'd You Go, Bernadette? for yourself. It manages to present Bernadette's anxiety issues in a compassionate and heart-warming manner. You'll love Bee, and you'll love Bernadette. Elgin proves that genius doesn't preclude human errors, and the novel ends with lessons learnt even for Bernadette. Definitely add this to your summer reading - before summer's gone.

(review originally posted on drey's library, a book blog)
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141 of 159 people found the following review helpful By Cindy Bokma on August 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you didn't read Maria Semple's first book, This One Is Mine: A Novel you must do so. The author has the kind of writing where she slyly inserts little witty comments here and there and if you just skim the book, you'll miss those gems.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette is an unusual and crafty novel in that it doesn't read completely like a regular book. Put together with bits and pieces from flashbacks, emails and other documents, the book has the reader turning pages to finally figure out where did Bernadette actually go?

What mother can't identify with Bernadette's desire to flee? She was once a promising architect but is now someone who doesn't want to venture outside her house. She is irritated by her neighbors, mothers at her daughter's school,slow drivers, Canadians, to name a few things. In her near-refusal to leave the house, she farms her duties out to a virtual assistant in India and you might take a guess how that pans out.

When Bernadette disappears, her 15 year old daughter is convinced Bernadette just wouldn't go without a good reason. She's the one who pieces everything together but not before the reader is taken on a journey to learn what exactly drove Bernadette to leave.

I was hooked from beginning to end! This novel is fun and entertaining and I was sad to turn the last page.
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167 of 198 people found the following review helpful By YumYum on September 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
(Warning- spoilers) I raced through this book. Bernadette is a very entertaining character- she shares the same opinion of Seattle that most people have when they move here. Many people leave for the reasons Bernadette lists. But I grew to love Bernadette's grit- even if it was a little obsessive and thorny. But then the book takes huge shift- HUGE-changes the character of the mom (she does something to her daughter that is just not conceivable because she is welded to her child and is her child's refuge- so she just wouldn't do it). Maybe the author didn't know where to go from there so she had the mom "go". (the title sort of gives that away in some sort of dual meaning- as in "go away" and/or "loss of self", etc.). But once this happens, the book becomes sort of unbelievable and tedious. And on the last two pages, all of a sudden, Bernadette has a complete reversal of what she previously thought- which was a huge let down for me. There is no resolution for some of the problems that crop up-some HUGE problems- so why have them at all? I guess the author took a class in symbolism, and you don't have to guess what the house, the boat, the ice, the blackberries, etc, all seem to represent. It's in your face for sure. Even though she has some msft details wrong- admins ARE secretaries not VP's and if someone dallies with them, they would be FIRED- and other things that make no sense- I guess the average reader who is NOT in Seattle won't know it, and it won't bother them.
I have to say I loved the first part of the book. I thought it was witty and on the mark, and that Bernadette was a touching and brilliant renegade with her own drum- even if her drum needed some adjustment. Then it fell to "meh,not so much". Sigh. It wasn't laugh out loud funny. But big parts of it were entertaining. It just so lost me at the end.
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53 of 65 people found the following review helpful By AvisE on June 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
*This review contains spoilers*
This book started out really well. I'm a big fan of satire and I found myself settling in for an enjoyable read (I LOVE Arrested Development which Maria Semple worked on, so my expectations were high). At about 40% the shine started to come off. It was the magazine article on Bernadette and her "brilliance" that did it. The woman designed ONE eco house in her entire life and yet she is lauded twenty years later as some kind of genius. Maybe this is meant to be part of the joke but it wasn't funny, especially considering that Bernadette's repressed creativity is seen to be the root cause of all her problems at the end. There needed to be some anchoring in reality. It was also at this point that I realized much of the book is written in the same voice. The simplistically written article, letters, reports etc all sound like they've been penned by the same person. At times they're also boring and I skimmed a lot.

The emails are better but Bernadette, Audrey and Soo-Lin are all remarkably similar in their whiney, self-pitying, self-absorbed, judgemental snarkiness. None of these characters are likeable but Bernadette is by far the worst and she's the one the reader is supposed to sympathize with! I did not like this character at all, and I found myself feeling very confused about exactly who is the target of satire in this book. I came to the conclusion the reader is supposed to vicariously enjoy and share in Bernadette's rants and her insufferable snobbishness.

The way the family's wealth is constantly highlighted through Bernadette's spending doesn't seem to be for satirical reasons, but rather to reinforce Bernadette's superiority to Audrey and Soo-Lin who do have to worry about money.
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More About the Author

Maria Semple wrote for the television shows Arrested Development, Ellen and Mad About You. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker and The Los Angeles Times. She lives in Seattle.

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Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel
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