Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Publication Date: October 2012
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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.
Maria Semple's first novel, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, where she also wrote for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She escaped from Los Angeles and lives with her family in Seattle, where her second novel takes place.
Comedy writer Maria Semple's latest, Where'd You Go, Bernadette, follows 15-year-old Bee as she tracks down her mother, Bernadette, who disappeared on the eve of a family trip to Antarctica. Bernadette is an epistolary novel that paints an acidly funny portrait of life in Seattle. More at NPR.org
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"The characters in Where'd You Go, Bernadette may be in real emotional pain, but Semple has the wit and perspective and imagination to make their story hilarious. I tore through this book with heedless pleasure."
-- Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom
"Brilliant, hilarious, endlessly inventive, and compulsively readable, Where'd You Go, Bernadette grabs you by the collar and never lets go. Semple is not only a masterful juggler, and an astute social critic, she is a magician!"
-Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here
"A delightfully funny book, that constantly catches one by surprise, Where'd You Go, Bernadette combines a shrewdly observed portrait of Seattle-life with, of all things, a mysterious disappearance in Antarctica. A pleasure."
-Matthew Kneale, author of When We Were Romans
"It was only a matter of time before Maria Semple turned her hilariously wicked, razor-sharp, acid-etched humor loose on Seattle, and set her impeccable laser sights on the heart of Microsoft. At times a tears-to-your-eyes laugher that skewers my own home town (and quite possibly my own mother), Where'd You Go, Bernadette is also a compassionate look at family dysfunction, the paralysis of genius, and good old-fashioned parental love. Cleverly constructed and brilliantly executed, Semple has driven this one home with great authority, and has proven, once again, that she ranks among contemporary literature's finest satirists."
-Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
"With a sure feel for the screwball and the slapstick, Maria Semple deliciously sends up the privileged, overachieving, PC world of Emerald City. Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a crazy quilt of an epistolary novel, utterly contemporary yet pleasingly old-fashioned, and always light and witty."
-Stewart O'Nan, author of The Odds
"Where'd You Go, Bernadette is fresh and funny and accomplished, but the best thing about it was that I never had any idea what was going to happen next. It was a wild ride..."
-Kate Atkinson, author of Case Histories and Started Early, Took My Dog
"Maria Semple dissects the gory complexities of familial dysfunction with a deft and tender hand. Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a triumph of social observation and black comedy by a skillful chronicler of moneyed malaise."
-Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers
"In her second novel...Semple pieces together a modern-day comic caper full of heart and ingenuity....a compelling composite of a woman's life-and the way she's viewed by the many people who share it. As expected from a writer who has written episodes of Arrested Development, the nuances of mundane interactions are brilliantly captured, and the overarching mystery deepens with each page, until the thoroughly satisfying dénouement."
-Publisher's Weekly Starred Review
"Semple's snappy writing and spot-on humor make this one of the funniest beach reads of the summer."
-Meganne Fabrega, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"[A] high-energy, often hilarious epistolary novel."
-- Brangien Davis, Seattle Magazine
"If you read only one book this summer about an agoraphobic mother and her broken promise to take her daughter Bee on a trip to Antarctica, make it this one....Semple writes like an oversized plume, finding all your tickle spots with ease."
-Holley Simmons, Washington Post Express
"An uproarious comedy of manners"