Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle - and people in general - has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence - creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.
©2012 Maria Semple (P)2012 Hachette Audio
I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. It is quirky, with a great mix of over the top and realism. It is so well written that characters' actions seem explicable while not always anticipatable.
It is, at its heart, the story of a woman who struggles with her place in the world as a mother, a wife, a "genius", and a member of a community. Her story is set in a charming narrative that is almost comical but always feels real and fresh.
I usually love dark and complex books so I don't know why I picked this - maybe it reminded me of Nick Hornby a little - but I'm very glad I did.
When I first read the dust-jacket, I passed this book over because I'm not a fan of light "chick-lit." But then my book club decided to give it a read, so I pushed past the cover and started listening... and listening... and listening. And loved it.
The story construction is quite clever - the author tells you up-front that Bernadette is missing - but then takes her sweet time getting to the point where she disappears. It's an effective way to keep listeners glued to the story, waiting for the mystery to unfold. And the events leading up to the disappearance are interesting on their own - but with the addition of emails, receipts, etc., they are doled out as bite-sized snippets.
Yeah, this book is perhaps a bit fluffy at its core, but it's what I think critics call a "a wildly fun romp." It's the perfect beach read. Preferable on a beach in Antarctica.
I probably will listen again (which I rarely do) just to see if I pick up on any clues earlier.
The blackberry bushes.....
Her voices of the characters were perfection!
I loved it! It often made me laugh.
This would be a fun book club book!
Interesting characters, flaws and all, that gain insight about themselves, and each other, as they try to figure out "Bernadette", the reclusive neighbor and mom to a precocious preteen girl. Clever story line without being cliche. Wonderful character performances. I savored the book during my latest road trip. The time flew by . . .
This was a hilarious and heart wrenching book. Loved the book and loved the characters. The reader was great as well.
Bernadette -- she embodied the crazy that is parenthood.
My husband and teenage daughter both loved it too. Really well written and entertaining...very original.
practicing psychotherapist interested in therapy, psychology, and recommendations for those seeking happiness, practical solutions, and understanding
I was looking for an easy listen while taking a brain-break from work. I knew I would have hours in the car and to myself so I read the reviews of many fiction books and decided on this one.
This story is as sweet as it is well-written and smart. The narrator, Kathleen Wilhoite, makes this book extra special when read aloud with her incredible ability to shape a character based on tone and voice. It's reminiscent of being read to as a child, my father creating silly and over the top characters in my storybooks. But it's not over the top... it's just right.
This book illustrates human misunderstandings, misses, and judgments in ways that break your heart. It also demonstrates the payoff of relentlessness and determination, if we have the courage to swim against the current, to continually demand to get our needs met. In the chaos of complexity of life, Bea is an inspirational character who provides lessons of hope for the kid in me.
Definitely. The details, twists, and turns in this book, as well as the multi-layered humor, deserve a second (and probably third!) listen.
The characters. They are fresh and quirky, but still relatable. There's no character without flaws, and no character without some redeeming quality.
She. Is. Incredible. Granted, I haven't read the paper copy of this book, but Ms. Wihoite's performance gives a depth and resonance to the characters that brings the book to life. Her attention to detail is impressive, and her efforts to honor each character and give each his/her authentic voice makes listening to this book both entertaining and compelling.
That's like asking an aunt who's her favorite niece or nephew. Impossible to say. On any given day, I can see choosing every character for different reasons. Today, I'd say Bernadette. Ask me again tomorrow.
Ms. Semple excels, with an intriguing plot that draws you in and keeps you moving forward effortlessly, interesting characters who keep developing as the story unfolds, and an interesting format. The story is charming and unique, but the relationships and emotions portrayed are down-to-earth and very real. I'm sure the format -- a mix of narrative, emails, and other materials -- presented quite the challenge for turning this into an audiobook. I've listened to other Audible audiobooks and have not been disappointed, but I have to say that Ms. Wilhoite's performance is truly impressive. Her dedication to giving the best expression of this book comes through, and all her preparation and work on the process definitely paid off. It's a rewarding "listen" all around.
The story itself is fascinating. The narrator also did a great job. Can't help finishing the whole book in 2 days!
I think it's difficult to write a comic novel. Although there were serious aspects to the story, it was loaded with quirky humor. This is the kind of comedy that is clever and intelligent. The characters are eccentric as well as endearing. Wedged in between weighty fiction, this book was just pure fun and enjoyment. I think it's the type of book you would love to start on a rainy day, wearing your favorite PJs and read all day and into the night. I gave this book 4 stars not because I think it's a work of literary genius, it's just fun to read.
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