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Where'd You Go, Bernadette Audiobook

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel

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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (5342 )
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  •  
    FanB14 04-26-15
    FanB14 04-26-15

    Short, Simple, No Spoilers

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    "Book Club Favorite"

    Bernadette was a ground-breaking, award winning architect, now married with a daughter. The book follows the events of how she dropped out of the public eye including work, friends, and the majority of people; possibly agoraphobic. Told mostly through emails and phone conversations, the conflict-avoidant heroine struggles to keep her sanity. Good choice for a book club circle.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 03-20-14
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 03-20-14 Member Since 2008

    Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.

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    "The current flipped my canoe!"

    You know, it is very difficult to continue against the current. Some times it is so strong it tips your boat. What is it with me that I can't enjoy this book? It isn't even a mild dislike--I can't stand it. I have gone back to it three times and each time, I cringe. It is fascinating how much I dislike it.

    Bernadette is just plain silly and insensitive and unbelievable. Is it just terminal quirkiness or mental illness? I know she is supposed to be creative and clever and funny, but it just doesn't come off that way for me. And the tirade against Seattle? I think you would have had to live there to get your laughs from that. A tirade which goes on way too long. Like a comedy routine.

    To make it all worse, I have no fondness for this narrator at all. So, there you have it. My rant about a book everyone else seems to love. Almost everyone.

    31 of 38 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jami E. Nettles Columbus, MS USA 09-30-13
    Jami E. Nettles Columbus, MS USA 09-30-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Charming story - just right realism"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Hoag 03-23-13
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    "You will never believe where she went!"
    Where does Where'd You Go, Bernadette rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is in the top 20. Great story and well told.


    What other book might you compare Where'd You Go, Bernadette to and why?

    I am not sure I have ever read a book like it. Told from the point of view of the daughter (mainly) the story unfolds in an interesting way that I can't explain without giving away a lot.


    What does Kathleen Wilhoite bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Her voice and expressiveness was great. Her voice for the daughter was childish and as the parents mature (except when the adults were acting childish).


    If you could rename Where'd You Go, Bernadette, what would you call it?

    Bernadette, you're a Mess!


    Any additional comments?

    Fun story. Long but worth it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cris Lake Waccamaw, NC, United States 08-19-12
    Cris Lake Waccamaw, NC, United States 08-19-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Wilholte Should Win a Grammy"

    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.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cat Greenfield, MA 07-26-13
    Cat Greenfield, MA 07-26-13
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    "What's all the fuss about?"
    Would you try another book from Maria Semple and/or Kathleen Wilhoite?

    I might try another Kathleen Wilhoite book, but I wouldn't read another Maria Semple book.


    Has Where'd You Go, Bernadette turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No.


    What aspect of Kathleen Wilhoite’s performance would you have changed?

    I think she did a great job, actually. The characters are just so annoying that I became irritated with everything about this book.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Frustration. After several hours of listening, I just kept wondering when the plot would ever begin.


    Any additional comments?

    I just don't care about bickering Seattle socialites and their prep school woes. Nothing about the storyline or the characters grabbed my attention, so I finally had to give up listening.

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 03-04-13
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 03-04-13 Member Since 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

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    "Mindless entertainment"

    You need to suspend the idea that this book has any resemblence to reality to enjoy it. It's absurd, silly, ridiculous and fun. Its not well written or socially redeemable, its just junk food for the ears and mind!The emails are funny and I loved the way they were performed of course they were over the top. That is what a beach read is all about!!!

    19 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dubi New York, NY 07-10-14
    Dubi New York, NY 07-10-14

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Happy to Have Found You, Bernadette"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Where'd You Go, Bernadette to be better than the print version?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    What does Kathleen Wilhoite bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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.


    If you could take any character from Where'd You Go, Bernadette out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    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.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan 09-07-13
    Jan 09-07-13
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    "Original, Funny, and a Little Quirky"

    Held my attention from the beginning. A fun listen. The storyline follows the mysterious disappearance of a mother and wife of an intellectual, earth-aware, family. But the real mystery is trying to figure out what is making the eccentric Bernadette tick.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Toby Portsmouth, NH, United States 07-06-13
    Toby Portsmouth, NH, United States 07-06-13 Member Since 2014

    Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.

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    "A sassy, satirical book on contemporary mores"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. It is humorous, but also has a bite to it. The central characters are developed and fully formed.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Bea, the daughter, was delightful, as was the mother.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Kathleen Wilhoite?

    Probably not. I did not like how her voice went up and down so much and I kept having to turn the volume down, I thought she went overly-dramatic at times and it distracted from the prose. I don't want a stage production.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I liked the mother's descriptive prose about coming alive in Antarctica.


    Any additional comments?

    It was wonderful the main character was a cutting edge architect and a woman.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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