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Where'd You Go, Bernadette [Hardcover]

Maria Semple
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 9.09 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

7 Jun 2012

Bernadette Fox is notorious.

To Elgie Branch, a Microsoft wunderkind, she's his hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled wife.

To fellow mothers at the school gate, she's a menace.

To design experts, she's a revolutionary architect.

And to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, quite simply, mum.

Then Bernadette disappears. And Bee must take a trip to the end of the earth to find her.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a compulsively readable, irresistibly written, deeply touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's place in the world.

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Where'd You Go, Bernadette + May We Be Forgiven + Flight Behaviour
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (7 Jun 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0297867288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297867289
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 15.9 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,734 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 (STYIST 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

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Foxy lady. 22 July 2013
By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful 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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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By K. J. Noyes TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky 18 Dec 2013
By J. Ang
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novel starts out well, as the reader puts together pieces of a once-promising architect Bernadette Fox's life, through the eyes of her daughter Bee.

For about two-thirds of the novel, the narrative is a composite of emails, documents, magazine articles, live blogs, and even FBI reports, which gives the book much of its refreshing character and charm, as they are interspersed with 15-year-old Bee's take on the gradual unravelling of Bernadette and her marriage to Microsoft-genius husband Elgie. Much of the humour in this book comes in the way of uproariously funny correspondence between fixer-upper moms (dismissed as 'gnats' by Bernadette) who view her reclusive stance in the close-knit community in the backwaters of Seattle as a threat to their vision of attracting "Mercedes Parents" to an essentially "Subaru Parent" kind of school. The tussle between Bernadette's creative genius that she left behind and the need to nurture as a parent, which she seems to fail at, emerges as a central concern in the novel.

Semple displays an acute sense of comic timing that comes from her years of experience as a television writer that includes "Ellen", "Arrested Development" and "Saturday Night Live". However, the break in epistolary mode in the last third of the novel (kind of, as it is essentially Bernadette's looong letter to Bee), did not work as well for me, as it attempted to explain too much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read! 27 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Would have been 5 stars, but I'm still not sure about the ending! Could well be I'd give it 5 after a second read!
Great characters and easy to empathise with them all, unusual when they're all so different. Bernadette herself is gradually revealed as a complex character....will say no more for fear of spoiling it! Even Seattle, the setting for the novel, develops a persona!
The story is told by various characters, both in dialogue and through e-mails and it's a great way of understanding different views on the same event. Humour, sometimes black, abounds and it all adds up to a fascinating book that was hard to put down.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read this year 6 Aug 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Stunning debut from Maria Semple. Witty. Beautifully observed. Laugh aloud storyline; reminiscent of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen for knitting together bizarre elements and turning them into a can't-imagine-where-this-is-going-next page turner. I was almost put off by the ringing cover endorsement from Jonathan Franzen, but finally, he and I agree about the literary merit of a specific book! Buy it now and prepare to be hugely entertained.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read!
I really recommend this book. I could barely put it down. This twists and turns were great, and as should be, unexpected!
Published 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun
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. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Julia Flyte
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern wit who writes a perfect blend of anti-suburban rant and a...
For anyone who has stood at a school gate, for mothers without a paid job, for mothers who also bring home the bacon, but especially for anyone with a sense of humour who will... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Angeli Macfarlane
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
Quirky fun story with memorable characters. I laughed out loud and cried. Many dimensions to it, the lovely mother-daughter relationship resonated with me.
Published 4 days ago by Mrs. RE Bryant
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
This was such good read on so many levels for me. The lead up to the disappearance of the once venerated architect ,Bernadette, was told through the letters, emails and other... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Becky-Ann D
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this from the first page
Funny, poignant and fresh. I loved this book and the characters in it. My heart went out to one in the end though
Published 9 days ago by Marianne James
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I really enjoyed this one about a mother who does fit into suburbia and disappears, along with her daughter's quest to find him. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Sara
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and quirky, but lovely
This is a different and quirky book . I could relate to the characters, despite the book being written as a collection of email and document exchanges. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Dona Rendell
5.0 out of 5 stars Epistolary novel that will grab you with each dramatic thread and...
Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel Audio CD - Audiobook
By Maria Semple (Author) Kathleen Wilhoite (Reader)
Little, Brown & Company; Unabridged edition (April 16,... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Ginger D. Harman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read and you'll learn as well.
A very well written book that went down all sorts of different alleyways but didn't get lost on the way. Read more
Published 25 days ago by camdenn
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