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Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel | [Maria Semple]

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel

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.

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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

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  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 03-04-13
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 03-04-13 Member Since 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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!!!

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TJ_NTLY United States 01-06-14
    TJ_NTLY United States 01-06-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narrator Irritating, Story Only Okay"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I feel like the story was disconnected...husband was a workaholic and then suddenly quits, the wife was a mad-woman and then suddenly gets a new idea and changes her tune. The daughter, an honor student turns ugly and mean.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    The author went on and on and on about Seattle...at one point I could have skipped over several minutes and not missed a thing.


    How could the performance have been better?

    I absolutely hated the narrator. I had to turn off listening to this book because the voice was so irritating and annoying. I almost feel like I couldn't get a good read on the book because of the high-pitched, squeaky voice.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    The book did hold my interest in a strange kind of way.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sand 11-03-13
    Sand 11-03-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Didn't expect to love it"

    ...But I did. The story is engaging and fairly well-crafted. Not seamless---there are some rough patches--but overall a very satisfying listener experience. You will be entranced!

    3 of 3 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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 2013
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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.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 07-10-14
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Amber 04-22-13
    Amber 04-22-13 Member Since 2015

    I read and listen to books. I drink tea. I sleep like a cat and wished I lived in Hawaii.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Funny and lighthearted."

    This was the first audiobook that I've listened to and I think it was a good pick. It was funny and lighthearted and I enjoyed the narrator. It makes me wonder if after you listen to a good audiobook that if reading it in book form is as enjoyable. I found myself giggling often and loved hearing the story through the eyes of many characters. I hope Maria Semple writes more books, she has a delightful style to her storytelling.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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