It's a bit of a silly story--sort of young teen fiction of the sort that existed before such books became so, well, adult--but a few of the scenes were so funny I laughed out loud. I guess I expected a bit of depth to this novel, given the amount of positive attention it's received, but I found none to speak of. Still, any novel that can bring us laughter while the world is in the mess it is has great value: it gives us breathing space.
Not since Jim Dial (Harry Potter series) have I enjoyed a narrator so much. Wilholte is great with nuance. I particularly enjoyed her voice as a PTSD counselor. While singing the entire first verse of "Oh Holy Night" was overkill, it did not affect my opinion of her overall performance.
This novel was a gem-- fun, funny and different. Loved it. I will look for more from Semple.
Loved the snarky, whiny, skewering tone of this takedown of all things Seattle. The only thing I would change would be the narrator (too sunny and chirpy).
The narrator's tone of voice did not fit the tone or subject matter of the book. I only finished listening to it to find out what happened to Bernadette.
The book inspired me to go out and get rid of the blackberry bushes in the side yard.
I love it when I have no idea what's going to happen next.
It was fun to listen to on the plane, so yes.
I suppose the mother was my favorite character. She has a very intriguing way of thinking. I felt like we could be friends IRL.
The narration was my only problem. The narrator, Be, is supposed to be 14 or 15 years old. I didn't know that for most of the book because the narrator reads it as if she's like 10. It was annoying, and I also think it detracted from the story because I always kept thinking she was a little girl.
Sure. Honestly, it's very rare for me to think a book isn't worth listening to. I always listen while doing something else anyway (getting ready, driving, on a plane etc), so it never feels like a waste of time.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
What makes this book stand out among similarly themed novels is the structure -- a modern day epistolary novel that relies on E-mails, reports, transcripts, notes, faxes, etc., and yes, even old fashioned snail mail letters. The writers and addressees of these messages are a variety of people, so we get a kaleidoscopic picture of Bernadette, the central character, and the four other main satellite characters, from many points of view.
The question is, does this work better in print, or in audio? As much as I liked listening to the book, I have to admit there were times I was confused about who was writing. If you zone out for a second and that second coincides with the From and To lines, you're in a bit of trouble. In print, you just look up and double check. Going back 30 seconds in audio, not so convenient, if you're driving or have to reach into your pocket to take out your cell phone.
But that is a minor quibble in an otherwise very funny and minorly insightful look at the ramifications of choosing motherhood over art and career, dealing with (unwanted) success and (perceived) failure, living with neurosis and mental illness, and finding your true place in the world while trying at the same time to be part of a family. And dealing with unimaginable horrors like five-way intersections, invasive blackberry vines, and game show hosts.
One of the genius decisions Maria Semple made in drawing her characters was to make none of them wholly sympathetic or wholly antipathetic. Bernadette is seriously annoying, Audrey is not as evil as you think, Bee is no saint. That makes them all seem so much more human, even when drawn as broadly, for comic effect, as Audrey and Soo-Lin. So, choose a favorite? Maybe another way to phrase this is, by the end, I love them all as characters.
Voices. That's the most common answer to this question. Whether that's good or bad is open to interpretation and matters of taste. They all work, but Bee's voice, which is the most used because she narrates all the in-between bits and the Antarctic trip that makes up most of the last couple of hours, can be too much to take in big doses. I hate to criticize Wilhoite for this, having had the exact opposite critique of the narrator of The Hunger Games -- I think she nails Bee's voice, but it's just too much to take in big doses.
Bernadette, obviously, Just say one short phrase, any phrase, and then sit back and listen to her rant and rave endlessly about the subject, and digress into myriad other subjects that get her goat (and then finish up her dish, since she'll lose her appetite ranting away). Well, that's a big part of this book, Bernadette's skewed world view, that's the love-it or hate-it part which most people, myself included, seem to love. The only problem would be getting her to go out to dinner, since she's agoraphobic and now resides in Antarctica.
I have recommended it to friends.
a view into the high tech world. quirky characters
by the end of the story, I lost some interest.
Narrator was way too over-the-top. The sample listen should have warned me....imagine that excited, high-pitch voice squeaking in your ear for nearly 10 hours!
How did she not detract from the book?
I guess it would be the main one, Bea...she was given the highest of the high-pitches.
adolescent girl was written like a 6 year old
no. I found most of her voices (especially B) horribly annoying
the premise of story was interesting, mother a complex character
The narration was grating. Way too much enthusiasm for most of the characters.
I'm an avid audible book listener. I am a huge fan of supernatural books and like stuff that is scary but well written. I live in Denver Co
The narration was grating, I couldn't connect or even empathize with the characters, let alone like them. In fairness, I didn't complete the title but I listened way longer than I wanted to thinking maybe it would get good. Nope. I really wanted to like this book!