Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Brilliant! That’s the best word I can think of for this highly original, many-faceted and entertaining novel. Divinely funny, intriguing, unique and poignant also come to mind.
Bernadette Fox is a complicated and misplaced genius. She’s a legendary architect, but hasn’t designed or built a home in twenty years. Instead she lives in Seattle with her family – husband Eldie Branch, who is considered like a rock star at Microsoft, and her fifteen-year-old daughter Bee, who is exceedingly bright but unaffected. They live in a rambling old house that is falling apart and all the other mothers in the area think Bernadette is a menace. Audrey, her next door neighbour, likes nothing more than to gossip about how awful she is.
But then Bee gets top marks in her report card and claims her reward that she can have anything she wants. She chooses a family trip to Antarctica and that’s when things become really difficult for Bernadette. Over the years she has become so agoraphobic that a virtual assist in India now runs her errands. As they get closer to the date of the trip, Bernadette suddenly disappears. To find her mother, Bee compiles FBI documents, email messages and secret correspondence to track her down – with surprising results. I just loved this novel from beginning to end, and I’d recommend to anyone who likes great fiction.