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Where'd You Go, Bernadette [Paperback]

Maria Semple
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 7.35 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 5.49  
Library Binding 10.82  
Mass Market Paperback 4.69  
Paperback, 4 July 2013 7.35  
Audio, CD, Audiobook 9.91  
Audio Download, Unabridged 21.85 or Free with Audible.co.uk 30-day free trial

Book Description

4 July 2013

'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, MARIE CLAIRE

'Maria Semple's witty, engaging novel takes the form of a collage of documents, emails, transcripts, liveblogs, FBI reports and magazine articles, all strung together by Bee Branch, a smart and articulate 15-year-old girl, but beneath this surface playfulness is a fascinating story of one woman's retreat from the world . . . refreshing in its honesty and complexity' OBSERVER

'A novel full of honesty and heart' CNN

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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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (4 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 178022124X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780221243
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 12.9 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,448 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


Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a wonderful piece of satire that pinpoints so many of the flaws in our current society. [Semple's] writing is sharp and witty but also incredibly heart-warming. (DOG EAR DISCS 2013-04-04)

It has had a strong hardback life, it's had some great reviews, now it's got to really capture the masses. I normally don't like books written in emails, journals, notes form, and had not realised this was - just as I hadn't realised Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was! This has the same feel, same contagious look, same wacky scenario (well, not quite), same relentless pull. From page one I was smitten, my dislike for emails forgotten. It is the mother/daughter relationship which is so brilliant, that and the character of Bernadette - a prize-winning architect who doesn't realise that what she needs in life is a new project Clever, witty and hugely satisfying (THE BOOKSELLER 2013-03-29)

it's a very enjoyable read and the satirical look at modern life (THE BOOKBAG 2013-04-15)

Laugh-out-loud funny and bitingly satirical (DAILY EXPRESS 2013-05-31)

a breathtakingly original comedy (ES MAGAZINE)

Maria Semple's witty, engaging novel takes the form of a collage of documents, emails, transcripts, liveblogs, FBI reports and magazine articles, all strung together by Bee Branch, a smart and articulate 15-year-old girl, but beneath this surface playfulness is a fascinating story of one woman's retreat from the world...refreshing in its honesty and complexity (THE OBSERVER)

a novel full of honesty and heart (CNN)

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 MARIE CLAIRE 2013-07-01)

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

Local menace, genius architect, recluse, mother: meet Bernadette Fox and her Mensa-level teenage daughter Bea as they travel from silicon valley-Seattle to Antartica and back again. With the kind of sharp, wish-I-wrote-it dialogue you'd expect from a former Saturday Night Live scriptwriter, this is like Tina Fey wrote Welcome to the Goon Squad. I can't say enough about this book, I loved it. (Sam Baker HARPERS BAZAAR)

Witty and compelling. (THE SUN ON SUNDAY 2013-06-30)

This fiercely sophisticated novel... whips us around in the maelstrom that is Bernadette Fox: a woman on the edge. (SAINSBURY'S MAGAZINE)

full of quirky charm about the mother/daughter bond (GOOD HOUSEKEEPING)

This novel, shortlisted for the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction, uses email correspondence to hilarious and heartbreaking effect. The disappearance of Bernadette Fox drives the engaging plot, with the mother/daughter relationship across geographical divides at its core (METRO)

When eccentric ex-architect Bernadette goes AWOL, her 15-year-old daughter, Bee, goes all Sherlock and reads her mum's emails for some answers - and a secret past. Surprisingly, I found myself seriously LOLing too. No wonder it's being turned into a movie! (COMPANY)

It is extremely funny, and 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)

This is an extraordinary novel - a fresh, funny, perceptive voice, and an exhilarating read. (GOOD BOOK GUIDE)

it's refreshing in its honesty and complexity (Natasha Tripney THE OBSERVER)

Semple is a TV comedy writer, and the pleasures here are the pleasures of the best American TV: plot, wit and heart. It's refreshing to find a female misunderstood genius at the heart of the book, and a mother-daughter relationship characterised by unadulterated mutual affection. (Justine Jordan THE GUARDIAN)

compulsively readable comedy... packed with wit, honesty and charm (MUMSNET)

Refreshing, honest and witty, this novel about motherhood zips and fizzes along, from start to end (Janine Cook THE INDEPENDENT '50 Best Beach Reads')

Delivered from multiple perspectives through letters, telephone calls, magazine articles and emails, it is cleverly plotted and compulsively readable. (Ian Wall PROPERTY WEEK)

Semple's exuberant tale is buoyed up by deft plotting and pitch-perfect characters, whose idiosyncrasies and wrong-headed interactions are by turns comic, tender and craven. Excellent stuff. (James Urquhart FT)

This light relief on the Women's prize shortlist has warmth and bite in equal measure. Brilliant, troubled Bernadette - a visionary architect who's started a family but lost the plot - is a fantastic creation, and Semple's picaresque comedy, told through letters, emails and even a live blog, skewers the absurdities of American privilege while drawing a heartfelt portrait of mother-daughter love (THE GUARDIAN)

I've been devouring the savagely funny Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. A TV comedy writer, Semple's wide array of targets include parenting, over-achievement, schoolgates rivalry, creativity, Seattle, Canadians, Microsoft, Antarctica and marital love... Semple is funny, smart and deeply touching (Rowan Pelling THE DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette is my favorite novel so far this year. It's funnier than a season's worth of Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Justified episodes; it's also the most original and imaginative fiction I've read since The Invention of Hugo Cabret (James Patterson NEW YORK TIMES)

...this book is highly enjoyable. (David Hebblethwaite FOLLOW THE THREAD)

...wonderfully eccentric (MUMSNET)

This novel, written in the form of emails, notes and phone calls, is original and funny and you'll learn a lot about Antarctica. (Joanna Czechowska WOMAN)

An extremely funny and ultimately moving farce about a quirky American family falling apart over a holiday to Antarctica (Alex von Tunzelmann EVENING STANDARD)

A dazzling comic novel about a misunderstood architect. It's an eccentric and brilliantly accomplished story with a real screenplay quality to it (Viv Groskop THE OBSERVER)

My happy summer holiday book was the funny, quirky and surprisingly moving Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. It's the kind of book you read and want to buy for friends (Alison Starling THE GUARDIAN)

Book Description

'Like A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD written by Tina Fey' The 2013 Women's Prize shortlisted, NEW YORK TIMES bestseller. Includes Reading Group Notes.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 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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8 of 8 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
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun 19 April 2014
By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER
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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - witty and entertaining 30 Jan 2014
By Macey89 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but not a couldn't put it down book
Took me a while to get into this book and I'm not one for story line told in part by letter/ email. Think it would be an ok book for a summer holiday though
Published 7 days ago by Fospot
5.0 out of 5 stars really different. in a good way!
A refreshing read, great style of writing and very funny, just brilliant characters. A very memorable book. I'll read another by the author next!
Published 17 days ago by Kerry WLler
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
NIce book! need to read till very last page to know what's going on exactly!
Published 23 days ago by A. Ng
1.0 out of 5 stars Thin
It is a very thin read. Not recommended. Full of stereotypes without insight or much in the way of creativity
Published 1 month ago by JTWaterloo
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, funny book with great characters
This is a very enjoyable, funny book with great characters and a plot you could not predict. While zany, this is a book about relationships and finding yourself. A great read.
Published 1 month ago by LilyCostello
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books... ever!
Read this book on holiday earlier in the year, so did my 5 other family members who loved it too. The style is unusual and takes a few pages to get into, but once you're in, you're... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rosie
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time reading this....
What a load of rubbish. This book was chosen as my latest book club read. What a load of rubbish, badly put together, no likeable characters.
Published 1 month ago by Olivia O'Keeffe
4.0 out of 5 stars Holiday reading!
Great story that kept the pages turning. Very enjoyable, a perfect holiday read! Good points with story that can draw parallels with dilemmas as a mum we constantly face!
Published 2 months ago by Catherine Brooks
3.0 out of 5 stars odd but a good read
Find it hard to get the owed count to 20 but it was an interesting read, quite an abrupt ending.
Published 2 months ago by Jo
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic
Surprisingly meaningful and a true observation of a family torn apart by disappointed dreams. Told in a humorous, down-to-earth way.
Published 2 months ago by Mr M J Holley
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