Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Marie Semple |  Fiction


This book is NOT about Bernadette’s physical disappearance (see my rant below.) However, it is about her emotional, intellectual and mental disappearance from her life.  Bernadette is an incredibly interesting character … she presents as somewhat daft ... but then again, she presents as very rational.  Can someone be “somewhat” daft? (Heck if I know; I’m a coach, not a psychiatrist!) As she lives her life as a mom and a wife and neighbor, living in a house that is literally being taken over by blackberry vines, you wonder how she can be called sane. But then you observe her relationship with her husband, her reasons for using a virtual assistant, her astonishing past, and her arguments with her neighbor and with her daughter’s school administrators and you unabashedly cheer her on!  To fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to designers, she's a revolutionary anomaly of an architect; and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

This is an odd book ... the story is primarily contained in notes the characters write each other ... usually not e-mails and not faxes, but “notes.” The author doesn’t explain how these “notes” get delivered.  Odd, yes, but once you become accustomed to the style, quite engaging

This was the January read for our book club, The Casting Crew.  (Nicole Kidman won the spot of Bernadette!)  I can't remember the last time we discussed a book for so long.  For the nine women sitting around Pam's dining room table, there was resonance with the character of Bernadette, as well as many laugh-out-loud moments while reading.

Yes, pick this novel up, get yourself accustomed to the odd and playful style, and enjoy.

Rant:  I have been reading book reviews much more since I started the Dusty Shelves book blog, sometimes before I read the book, sometimes after.  I need to start paying attention to the reviewers' names and see if I can find a few I like and trust (sort of like the old days with movies and Siskel and Ebert.  Any suggestions, blog readers??)  I have noticed that so many reviewers zero in on an event in a book that they find particularly enticing and then write about that, pretending that the exciting event they picked out is what the book is about, thereby tantalizing you by this event.  (Actually, publishers and their jacket notes are even more to blame than reviewers!)  Did you read any of the reviews claiming Where’d You Go, Bernadette was a mystery about Bernadette's (physical) disappearance?  Well, it isn’t!  Bernadette doesn't disappear until page 213; more than 2/3rds through the book.  This event-focused review does the author and the book a disservice, I believe.


4 responses on “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

  1. Sigal Goldstein

    I loved this book! When I saw that you had reviewed it, Andrea, I cringed a bit. I so hoped that you liked it. And when I saw that you gave it 4 stars I smiled big time. I totally agree that Bernadette got lost long before she disappeared. And I love Bee. Who did you identify with? I think I have a little of Bernadette and a little of Bee. This book is a little out there and screwy but emotionally it’s so true. People can be so contradictory. Wise and silly, loving and detached. I know that I have been a very good mother and also a sucky one. And the book made me laugh out loud. I’m so glad you liked it too.
    Btw amazon has a graded system for reviewers so you can find the best ones quite easily. And if you put your reviews on there you’ll soon be one of the best. Love Sigal

    1. Andrea Sigetich Post author

      Ah, so glad not to disappoint you, Sigal! That’s a great question — who did I identify with? Personally, I don’t think I identified with anyone. But I enjoyed being their observer! I don’t believe I am as crazy or weird as Bernadette, nor as determined or investigative as Bee. Nor as focused and angry and Audrey. In some ways, I may have identified most with Elgie .. a corporate type who is rather distant from it all (and a great leader) and tends to take action a bit compulsively!
      I will check out Amazon reviews. Good idea!

  2. Mary C Crawford

    I was considering getting this title in audio book format to listen to as I walk away winter miles on the treadmill. Reading your description, I’m wondering if it would be a good book to listen to. What do you think?

    1. Andrea Sigetich Post author

      Hmmm, I don’t known — I never listen to books. Anyone else?? My guess is that the readers would figure out a way to let you know when they were reading a note and not. I think if they are clear about that, it would be fun to hear it read .. it will probably make the funny parts funnier!