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

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
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Jan 07, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: 2013, 4-stars, new-author-to-me, read-on-kindle, tournament-of-books-2013
Read from December 29, 2012 to January 07, 2013

I am big fan of "quirky" and that word has been used a lot in describing Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette, so much so that I was almost afraid to read the book. At the start, it all seemed a bit too cute-sy with its contemporary epistolary format style of e-mails, letters, medical reports, faxes (faxes?!), etc. -- but once gaining some rhythm, I was devouring this novel like a bowl of tortilla chips (which sometimes ain't pretty folks!). In a highest compliment, I found it somewhat reminiscent of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series with all the oddball characters, alternating perspectives, "just one more" page-turning compulsion, and a city that becomes a character in and of itself (in this case, Seattle).

Given how much fun this novel is, it is kind of difficult gauging how good it is and/or take it too seriously. It's kind of like the Academy Awards, where it is rare to see a comedic performance even get nominated, let alone win. But Semple certainly has skill and comic chops and it is nice to see a book of this nature get the attention it is getting in year-end best-of lists and, what finally got me to read it, a berth in 2013 Tournament of Books.

Like others, I felt the story tailed off in the end. Not that it was an unsatisfying conclusion, but "snap, crackle, and pop" of this novel was in the lead-up and immediate aftermath of Bernadette's disappearance (given the title, I am assuming this is no spoiler) and it almost seemed an impossible task for Semple to keep it up in the resolution. This was almost enough to dip it to down to my hedged 3.5 stars rating, but I'll stick with a full-on 4 stars for the creativity, fun, and that pushed-right-to-the-edge quirk that were the hallmarks of the large majority of the novel.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Joanna Funny you should reference Tales of the City. While in San Fran in October I went to City Lights Bookstore (awesome!) and asked for a book which took place in and around the city and that was one of two that I bought. It's in my TBR pile. Once again - same wavelength!


message 2: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed I have such affection for the Tales series that during reading Bernadette I decided I was going to re-read the series. Always a bit scary, since I loved it so much (and the PBS mini-series back in the day) that I hope I am not disappointed w/ the re-read. Tho pretty doubtful, Maupin can do no wrong in my book. But it's very quirky and quick (it was originally published in serial-form in a newspaper, so short chapters!).


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