Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple


Bernadette Fox was once an architect that was coveted by many.  She had won awards and was sought after my big industry names.  Married to Elgin, a head honcho with Microsoft, they could very well have been considered a power couple.

After many miscarriages, Bernadette gives birth to fragile but beautiful baby girl who they name Bee.  As the years go on Bernadette goes farther and farther away from who she once was, so far in fact that she hires a woman from another country on-line to do all her personal errands from shopping, to appointments, travel planning and more.  If Bernadette can avoid socializing with other people she is happy and chooses not to leave her house unless necessary. 

Bee now 15, aces her report card and as her reward she is given the choice of any trip she wants and Bee chooses a cruise ship to Antarctica.  At first Bernadette is filling her time making plans for the trip, purchasing excursions on-line and ordering up multiple pairs of everything to be delivered and tried on and returned if not right.  Yet as the trip grows closer Bernadette becomes fearful of the trip itself and the people all the people on the cruise who will want to small talk and there will be no place to breathe and….

Bernadette disappears.

Bee now is looking through the pieces that led to her mothers disappearance – emails, letters, travel notes… trying to find the mother she loves and bring her back home.

Where’d You Go Bernadette is a fun crazy tilt a whirl of a read.  Do not enter this book with the thought that you are about to read something deep and profound and Kleenex at hand…. instead enter this one with the anticipation of a fun house at a carnival filled with plenty of those wacky mirrors that cause you to see things as they truly are not. 

This book is impracticable, unrealistic, and border line insane.  Yet… it is also captivating, encouraging, and witty like a Janet Evanovich read.  You read this one for pure enjoyment.  The neighbors are crazy.  Saltine cracker with cool whip on it crazy.  The school faculty is stuck up and Elgin… well, lets just say he belongs with Bernadette. 

I wanted to read this book because earlier this year my book club read This One Is Mine by this author and truly did not like it across the board.  (Read my review here… we honestly think it is a Midwestern thing).  I had heard such good things about this book I had to give the author a second chance. 

I listened to this book on audio and Kathleen Wilhoite did an amazing job as narrator (there is a point she sings that wowed me). She captivates the voices of Bernadette and Bee very well. 

Overall… grab your Skittles and a cherry flavored slurpy and you are ready to dig into this one… its crazy unrealistic and funny bone funny and I am sure that is exactly what the author was going for.

34 thoughts on “Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

  1. I had this one on my list for the longest time because it got such good reviews but could not bring myself to read it because I HATED This One is Mine! Glad this one was better!

  2. This was one of my favorite books of the year. I would suggest everyone listen to the audio. Kathleen Wilhoite is fantastic!

  3. P.S. – wait – that sounds like – well, I think it’s a great review because I AGREE with you! ha ha, but no, I think it was well written and captured my reactions exactly. :–)

  4. I read this for a local dinner/book group – a chef created a meal to match the book which was fabulous. Everyone there really enjoyed this novel, including me. I just LOVED the satire! I think it is especially enjoyable if you are a parent with kids in school and can recognize many of the parents in the story. I kept reading parts out loud to my husband.

    Glad you enjoyed it – I figured the audio would be confusing because of all the different formats, but it sounds like it was good!


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  5. been wanting to read this and may check out on audio now. I’ve been music critic for 20 yrs and interviewed Kathleen Wilhoite about her solo album many years back. she’s quite talented.

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