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Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel Paperback – April 2, 2013
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"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."―Megan O'Grady, Vogue
"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
"There's a lot to like in Semple's charming novel, including the vivacious humor and the lesson that when creative forces like Bernadette stop creating, they become 'a menace to society.' Even more appealing is the mutually adoring mother-daughter relationship at its warm heart."―Heller McAlpin, NPR
"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)
"A comedic delight..."―Family Circle
"Agoraphobia and Antarctica are among the elements in Maria Semple's terrific novel."―Parade
"Semple's affecting characters, not-necessarily-nice humor and surprising plot twists make this novel an enchanting ride."―Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
"Warm, dark, sad, funny-and a little bit screwball.... This is an inventive and very funny novel that gets bonus points for transcending form."―Susan Coll, The Washington Post
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
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The first-person narrative shifted often through the use of emails as the medium for the protagonist making it a bit hard to follow.
Sometimes the "content" of the emails seemed far less like language that would be written in emails -- the use of "and then I said...." isn't typically how emails would be written so you also didn't know if you were still in the email conversation or standard prose.
I was a bit bored with the drama that was created by the stereotypical dram of the husband working long hours and falling out of touch with his wife plot line, and some of the plot scenarios you can see coming a mile away.
All in all, this book kept me entertained and I didn't have to do too much thinking while I was sick.
There was one thing that nagged at my brain a bit, the events seemed to happen very quickly over a short period of time. I had to go back and forth to check dates because it didn't seem realistic to me. It's something that can be easily overlooked but I noticed it affected how I felt about certain characters. These were also things that I felt didn't necessarily have to be part of the plot so their timing was more distracting than anything else.
The emails and letters might not be everyone's taste,but Semple handled it with style and skill.