Sunday, August 17, 2014

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
by Maria Semple
4 stars - was that supposed to be funny, because I found it depressing
ALR Green - family dog in a very minor role

First of all, for those of you who have made reading recommendations, I thank you. Secondly, note that when I say something is "in my queue" I mean it. This particular recommendation has been in the queue for almost two years, but things do eventually pop to the top and / or show up in the library network (although I do have a somewhat random timer, after which I will break down and purchase a book).

Here's another example where the "hilariousness" of a novel escapes me. Even "satire" would be too strong a word in my book. Maybe I just see things too objectively. Regardless, it's still a good, if ultimately depressing, piece of work.

Bernadette Fox lives in Seattle with her husband and daughter. Bernadette just doesn't seem to be fitting in. Why? Well, she's a bit agoraphobic to start. So much so that she's contracted out her personal life to an online assistant in India. But she doesn't mope around. She seems pretty lively. Her husband is a big shot technologist at Microsoft (and I found all of the depictions of the high tech industry completely plausible). Her daughter is cool and clearly loves her mom.

The problem is with the people around her. Bernadette ops out of parental participation at her daughter's school, which puts her on the "weird outsider gossip" list with the other parents. In particular with her next door neighbor who believes that Bernadette's fixer upper house and property are a blight on the community. They get into a nasty feud over the blueberry bushes that boarder Ms. Neighbor's property which leads to an unfortunate incident. 

Combine that with being accused of assault, having a husband who is forever at the office, and being reminded of a past she thought she left behind, Bernadette finally dumps it all and makes her escape, vanishing from the face of the earth and presumed dead by all but her loyal, loving daughter.

It's a very well written book and I do recommend it (hence the four stars). However, I had to read it quickly just to get on to something a little less real and painful. 


  1. Real and painful isn't what I need right now. I appreciate your candor. Given that my book club is reading The Sound & the Fury (a favorite, but...), I think I'm looking for something light and uplifting next.

  2. I don't think I can do depressing right now. I often don't get the humor in books like this, maybe because I'm not a naturally funny person. Thanks for a great book review.