Michelle's Reviews > Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
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's review
Aug 16, 12

A fun to read novel, hard to put down, but not totally satisfying. It rattles along at a fast clip, told in the form of emails and reports, about a Seattle family. The locations - Seattle and Antarctica - seem to be as important as the characters.

Bernadette is a stay at home mother who is remarkably anti social. She has no friends and doesn't like leaving the house, hiring an online virtual assistant based in India to carry out very simple chores. Her husband Elgie is a salt of the earth type, beloved by his team members at Microsoft, and daughter Bee is clever smart and loving. But throw in architectural drama, blackberries, school gate politics, workplace restructuring and poncey boarding schools and you have a novel with drama and flair. You find yourself loving Bernadette and at the same time wanting to slap her for her selfishness. All the characters seem to have flaws and strengths in equal numbers.

Nice touches - Antarctica is a special place, and long may it remain so. I'm glad the characters gave us a chance to experience the atmosphere. Nice to have a New Zealand character - we feel so insignificant in our tiny nation at the end of the earth! I loved the PC school and it's zealous mothers, they were so over the top (I'm hoping they don't really exist...) But the ending was a bit too neat and tidy, and everyone was sort of redeemed and realised the errors of their ways, which I doubt most people do in their lifetimes :)
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