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Where'd You Go, Bernadette Hardcover – 7 Jun 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (7 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297867288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297867289
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.1 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (248 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 62,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Maria Semple lives in Seattle, WA. After writing for lots of TV shows, she turned to "real" writing. THIS ONE IS MINE is her first novel.
Visit her at www.mariasemple.com

Product Description


Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette is the book that comes closest to matching Jonathan Safran Foer's 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close'. It's the highly charged story of a high achieving child, her genius Microsoft star employee father and her reclusive award-winning mother Bernadette. The family trip to Antarctica may well be their undoing. This is a hilarious novel with undoubtedly the pushiest parents ever captured in ink (Patrick Neale, Jaffe & Neale Bookshop THE BOOKSELLER)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is an innovative comic novel. The eponymous Bernadette was once a great architect but has fallen into a cycle of agoraphobia and misanthropy in Seattle. She is a bitter character who despises most other people but she's actually quite charismatic. I found myself rooting for her, which is testament to Semple's accomplished style and characterisation (Ruth Hunter, Bertrams THE BOOKSELLER)

The characters in 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)

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)

A fresh, flamboyantly witty new voice (Helen Fielding)

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 English Passengers)

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 de Witt, author of The Sisters Brothers)

In this funny, clever book, notorious architectural genius Bernadette disappears and it's up to her daughter Bee to find her. One to watch this summer (ESSENTIALS magazine)

A funny, flamboyant portrait of a flawed heroine's attempts to fit in (MARIE CLAIRE)

An absorbing and witty book (STAR magazine)

If you loved the humour of A Visit From The Goon Squad, pack this sharp, witty novel... we love the way the story is told through a series of emails and memos, and applaud its message that everyone is a bit mad, no matter what they look like. A fabulously kooky tale from one of the writers of TV's Arrested Development (EASY LIVING)

Despite its underlying despair, this is no neurotic gloomfest, but a clever, witty page-turner with sparkling dialogue, some hilarious episodes and a heart that gradually melts (You magazine, MAIL ON SUNDAY)

Bernadette Fox was a visionary architect, now she's a recluse, and when she goes missing, daughter Bee must track her down. Don't miss this funny debut from SNL scriptwriter Maria Semple (GRAZIA)

Maria Semple's deeply touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's place in the world. A seriously compulsive read (STYLIST magazine)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette is constructed from a collection of self-absorbed perspectives, and Maria Semple ensures each expertly pitched voice is both target and author of its own satire. In what is at times a sad and painful tale about family dysfunction, black comedy waylays sentimentality. Semple's second novel is a witty, thrilling adventure about creation, destruction, the Antarctic - and the maternal bond (THE OBSERVER)

Semple is a TV comedy writer, and the pleasures of Where'd You Go, Bernadette are the pleasures of the best American TV: plot, wit and heart... It's rather refreshing to find a female misunderstood genius at the heart of a book...In her spiky but essentially feelgood universe, failure and self-exposure open up a rich seam of comedy, but shame can always be vanquished by love (THE GUARDIAN)

You'd expect something fresh and funny from a writer who once penned scripts for Ellen and this does not disappoint... Dazzlingly original and entertaining (RED magazine)

extremely funny, often laugh-out-loud so... with her penchant for unexpected twists and smart jet-propelled dialogue, Semple has a way of combining a technologically savvy, ice-cool wit with a stealthy ability to show gradually a character's warmer side (Tom Cox THE SUNDAY TIMES)

as sharp as lemon juice (Wendy Holden DAILY MAIL)

I have hardly stopped raving about this since I read it, back in the Spring...Funny poignant and pointed, think Jennifer Egan's Goon Squad rewritten by Tina Fey and you get the picture. Without doubt, my book of the year. (Sam Baker, editor of RED magazine www.redonline.co.uk)

heart-warming, life-affirming novel of the year (Polly Vernon THE TIMES)

delightfully weird... Fast-paced and hilarious, every sinewy plot twist will take you by surprise and have you laughing out loud (PA LIFE magazine)

Laugh-out-loud funny and bitingly satirical (DAILY EXPRESS)

The funniest book I've read in a decade. I laughed to the point of crying on an airplane. My wife thought I'd lost my mind until she read it a few days later (John Green best-selling author of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS)

a breathtakingly original comedy (ES MAGAZINE)

a novel full of honesty and heart (CNN)

an invigorating, hilarious, addictive ride of a novel (Maggie O'Farrell)

Book Description

A wild ride of a novel from a scriptwriter of Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ms Katja H Hiltunen on 30 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's been impossible to live in Seattle and not hear and read people gushing about this novel so I thought I'd see for myself what the fuss is all about. They weren't wrong - the novel is delightful. Semple's writing is fresh, fast-paced and funny and you quickly grow to love (or loathe) all the characters and it's practically impossible to put the book down.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 July 2013
Format: Paperback
Does it make any difference when you come to read a book? I think it does. Coming to this straight from the doom and gloom of Rachel Joyce's follow-up to Harold Fry, Perfect, I plunged into this engaging story with palpable relief! Like 'Perfect', it centres on a mother's breakdown but there the similarity most definitely ends.

Where'd You Go Bernadette reminds me of a lemon meringue pie. The top layer is a light and frothy confection of emails, faxes, news articles, letters and reports revolving around the disappearance of Bernadette Fox. Bernadette was the most promising female architect of her generation. Now a home-bod and borderline agoraphobic, she is the tart lemony middle layer, throwing out caustic criticism of her provincial Seattle neighbours, local drivers and enraging all the other school 'moms'. She's a wonderful creation. At the base is a crisp satire on the American dream. Maria Semple's passages about creativity in architecture and corporate life at Microsoft are particularly enlightening.

A deceptively easy yet multi-layered read - and a highly entertaining one. 4.5*
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Macey89 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Bernadette Fox has disappeared. Everyone assumes she is dead, or gone for good. But her fifteen-year-old daughter, Bee, is determined to do everything she can to find her.

Over an eclectic collection of notes, letters, private emails, articles, blog posts and reports, we gradually gain a unique insight into all of the characters, their motivations and their emotions. These are interspersed with commentary from Bee, as she attempts to piece everything together. These all come together to form a bigger picture of the string of events that took place in the run-up to Bernadette’s disappearance - and to help us, and Bee, solve the mystery as to where she is now.

The format of the book is really interesting. It’s quite hard to describe the plot for this exact reason. It didn't feel as if I was reading a story, instead, it felt like I was putting together a case and a narrative from the raw material. Only in this case, the raw material is incredibly witty and expertly crafted to give away just the right information at any given point in time. Each character has their own voice, and this voice is real, rounded and completely convincing. I think one of the real skills on display here is the ability is to flit from character to character, switching between different perspectives from page to page.

The overall narrator, Bee, is strong willed, independent and funny, and her mother is wonderfully eccentric and entertaining. I wanted to know them. The story does veer into the ridiculous at some points, but this only adds to the overall charm of the book and it somehow manages to also stay believable. It’s been a while since I enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed this, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By K. J. Noyes TOP 100 REVIEWER on 19 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover
Really enjoyed this. Loved the style, story and Bernadette.

Bee is 15, and she adores her mum. Her mum Bernadette is a tour de force - strong, opinionated, intelligent, not afraid to be disliked.
Until one day she disappears.

Bee and her father must go in search of their missing wife/mum, almost to the ends of the earth. This sounds serious, but it's a very funny book. The school and neighbour scenes are almost hilarious in their everyday nit-picking annoyance, with Bernadette's reactions admirable yet scary.

It was a surprise for me to see this in the longlist (and then shortlist) for the 2013 Women's Prize as, though I enjoyed it, I didn't think it would stand up with the company one expects to see in this longlist. It's enjoyable but still on the light side.

I thought Bee was the weak link in the book, I couldn't see the intelligence for which she was so highly praised coming out in the character (not like the YA narrators in John Green's books for example) - she's just an everyday teenager.

Really flew through this. Nice sense of humour - will use the 'gnat' idea! For a reading group, parenting responsibilities and social behaviour, among others are topics that could be discussed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 100 REVIEWER on 19 April 2014
Format: Paperback
Bernadette is an acclaimed architect who hasn't worked for 20 years. She lives in Seattle with her husband, a high flying Microsoft exec and her fifteen year old daughter, Bee. Bernadette is a devoted mother but also reclusive, somewhat eccentric and not afraid to be disliked. In fact she almost relishes confrontations.

I really enjoyed this book. It's funny and extremely clever. It's pieced together from a series of emails, school notes, faxes, magazine articles, police reports, medical reports and narration from Bee. It weaves in disparate strands such as mummy wars, FBI investigations, TED talks, Penguin behaviour and the Russian Mafia. Essentially it's just a fun ride that makes fast and very entertaining reading.
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