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 was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book. It tells a story that speaks to anyone who feels that they do not always fit in this world--complete with an exploration of the panic that causes, and the joy that emerges in finding your way.
The author grounded this book in regional stereotypes which makes it uniquely American and also hilarious. Bernadette could have been pretty repulsive but she's written in a manner that makes her relatable and I thought even likable. The relationship between Bernadette and Bee was especially compelling.
The reader (who Gilmore Girls fans will recognize as Luke's sister, Liz) perfectly captured the characters and their personalities. Will definitely listen again sometime down the road.
I wouldn't consider Kathleen Wilhoite as a reader again, since she seemed to me to do such a dreadful job with the voices. For some reason she adopted an extraordinarily childish voice for several of the adult characters, and even her reading of Bee was much too young for an intelligent 15-year-old. Her mis-reading bothered me so much that I almost stopped listening, but I stuck with it hoping that it would get better. It didn't.
I wouldn't say that the story was disappointing, it was just trivial, but it could have been entertaining in the hands of a different reader.
In every possible way. Her interpretation of several characters made them repellant, when I don't think that this was Semple's intention.
I would listen to this audio book again because I inhaled it and didn't have the opportunity to savor it's finer points and language.
The book is constructed like "Dear Mr. Henshaw," in letters back and forth between characters, which is surprisingly effective.
The ultra-modern story and characters reminded me of a mix of Fay Weldon and Zoe Heller : a social commentary on marriage, men behaving badly , mental illness, yuppy politics and travel.
A solid performance from Kathleen Wilhoite. She fully embodies each character, male and female, young and old.
I could not pause this audiobook. I devoured it on a cross country flight. It's thoroughly enjoyable, engaging and just the right amount of schadenfreude.
The incredibly accurate description of elusive human emotions. You will find yourself in this book.
Bernadette is amazing and memorable.
Do yourself the favor of ready this fun, quirky, well written book. Take the journey with Bernadette and discover a little something about yourself. I want to be Bernadette's friend!
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.
Say something about yourself!
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.
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