AdultFiction Teton County Library's Reviews > Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
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's review
Jun 27, 13

bookshelves: funny
Read in February, 2013

Teton County Library Call Number: F SEMPLE

Cindy W.'s Rating: 4 stars
“Where’d You Go Bernadette?” is an entertaining read. The book is populated by eccentric, flawed, talented characters who, through LOL situations, get themselves into - and ultimately out of - destructive patterns which have put themselves and their families into downhill slides. A giant mudslide actually takes place in the book, landing (literally) tons of wet soil from the property of the protagonist into the home of one of the book’s antagonists. A funny scene. The story takes place in Seattle, LA, and Antarctica. Semple describes these settings with skill, making them all very palpable – the weather, the social tension, the beauty. She uses not only narrative but emails, FBI reports, letters and ship captain’s logs to tell her story. The technique reminded me a little of Jennifer Egan’s “Goonsquad” layout, although “Bernadette” is laid out chronologically, with fewer characters and a shorter time span. Semple was a TV comedy scriptwriter before writing fiction, so I was not surprised that her technique also reminded me a little of TV comedy shows – very short scenes from different perspectives that, when well done, tell a cohesive, humorous story.

Christy's Rating: 4 stars
This book is hilarious, subtly so. No wonder the author wrote for Mad About You and Arrested Development. Satire in the form of correspondence. I think the fantastic cover art drew me in.

I just love the idea of a MacArthur-Award-Winning darling of the architecture world who disappears after her biggest triumph-come-disaster, then portrayed years later through the eyes of her daughter and the bohemian-bourgeoisie moms of a Seattle private school. That comedy of manners and intrigue is my favorite piece of the book. Then it turns to is-she-crazy-is-she-not, which makes her run away leaving her family to chase after.

Overall really enjoyable if not life-changing.

Marisa's Rating: 3 stars
What a fun read! This epistolary (I just learned this great literary term from the fantastic book trailer for this novel)book was quite the fast read. I even laughed out loud a few times -- a sure sign of a fun novel! The sarcastic tone and hilarious correspondences kept me reading but the funny assessments of Seattle society kept me laughing.

Diana's rating: 4 stars
This is a great summer read for all of the reasons given above. Quick pacing, funny archetypical characters, and Bernadette herself, a character we haven't seen before, somebody famous in her own field but relatively unknown to those outside it, who goes into hiding a la Greta Garbo. The revelatory nature of the last quarter of the book turns enemies into friends and vice versa, and "cures" Bernadette of what was ailing her.

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