February 8, 2014
Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Marie Semple
2012 Hachette Audio
Reader: Kathleen Wilhoite
Finished on 11/17/13
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)
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 daughter’s unflinching love for her imperfect mother.
I love epistolary novels and I wish I had taken the time to peruse the print edition of this novel rather than jumping right into the audio version when it appeared in my library queue. Listening to every detail of an email, fax, memo, police report and TED talk becomes tedious and interrupts the flow of the narrative; after all, most people skim right over those aspects of a printed document.
However, Bernadette’s rants about the Pacific Northwest (and Microsoft) are hilarious and I found myself laughing out loud, thankful that I was at work, pretty much alone, although I do recall the cleaning lady giving me strange looks every once in a while. ;)
While I enjoyed Semple’s snarky humor, this quirky novel was a bit too annoying (and even sad) at times and in the end turned out to be a “meh” read. Good, but not great.