After leaving behind a successful career, Bernadette finds herself living in Seattle with her husband and brilliant daughter, Bee. Bernadette detests the city and her neighbourhood full of busybody moms to the extent where she hires a virtual assistant in India to help her with everyday tasks. When the pressure and threat of interactions with the outside world starts mounting, Bernadette suddenly disappears. Bee is determined to find her mother as she scours past correspondence to get clues where her mother could have disappeared to.
I had heard so many things about this book when it first came out, so many people telling me how fun and funny it is. With Semple having been a former writer for Arrested Development, among other shows, it’s no wonder the book would be filled with wit and humour. To be honest, I had no idea what the style of the narrative would be like going into this book and I was pleasantly surprised to see it told all in “correspondence” form. It’s true, this format is a hit or miss depending on the reader, but I’ve always enjoyed it as a way to tell a story. Bernadette’s story unfolds as Bee goes through her emails, invoices, and other forms of mail. I felt that for the most part, this worked. It was a clever way to divulge information and reveal more to what was going on. It was later into the book that I felt it a bit of a stretch. I loved the first section entitled “Mom Versus the Gnats” and the letter-writing narration worked hilariously. A couple of the later segments seemed more to use that as a gimmick, a way to tell the readers what’s going on as a really long “letter” between two friends sharing a story about a Bernadette encounter.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette started out really strong for me, and somewhere in the middle it petered out a bit in momentum. The ending picks back up again as the story begins to wrap up and we get to find out what’s going on. Overall I really enjoyed this fun, satiric story which pokes fun at the drama that surrounds some of the privileged while maintaining a heartfelt tale about a daughter’s unwavering faith & love for her mother.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4 /5 stars)
Available: August 14, 2012
Goodreads | Book Depository | Chapters Indigo
Read as part of Brunch Book Club with Lost in a Great Book.
Wrap up discussion to follow in the coming week.