Where'd You Go, Bernadette (Semple) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
The novel lays to Ms. Semple's strengths as someone who can practice ventriloquism in many voices, skip over the mundane and utterly refute the notion that mixed-media fiction is bloggy, slack or lazy. The tightly constructed Where'd You Go, Bernadette is written in many formats—e-mails, letters, F.B.I. documents, correspondence with a psychiatrist and even an emergency-room bill for a run-in between Bernadette and Audrey. Yet these pieces are strung together so wittily that Ms. Semple's storytelling is always front and center, in sharp focus. You could stop and pay attention to how apt each new format is, how rarely she repeats herself and how imaginatively she unveils every bit of information. But you would have to stop laughing first.
Janet Maslin - New York Times


The assignment: Craft a novel from the literary equivalent of found objects. Consider the narrative possibilities contained not just in letters and e-mails, but in school report cards, emergency room bills and police reports filed by night managers at Westin Hotels. The resultant work must have a compelling plot, a strong sense of place and fully realized characters. Make it warm, dark, sad, funny—and a little bit screwball. Could we ask for a more delightful response to that assignment than Maria Semple's second novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette.... This is an inventive and very funny novel that gets bonus points for transcending form.
Susan Coll - Washington Post


If Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl represented the dark heart of the summer literature, Maria Semple's...Bernadette embodies the sunnier, funnier side.... Semple has a flair for satire and screwball jinks, and she has produced a great gift to avid readers: a book that you never want to finish reading.
Connie Ogle - The Miami Herald


Stands to become a cult favorite.... Like Jane Austen-who set the gold standard for social satire-Semple's most ridiculous characters are convinced that they're the normal ones, and it's wonderful fun to watch as they behave abominably, believing themselves blameless.... Semple has a keen ear for the nuances of different voices, and it's a joy to get to know these people.... Bernadette is...marvelous. Her rants read like the best comedy routines.... It's the rare book that actually deserves the term "laugh-out-loud funny," but I found myself reading passages from almost every page to anyone who would listen, even as I could barely articulate the words through my own laughter.
Malena Watrous - San Francisco Chronicle


Semple paints each character with depth and tenderness while keeping the tone upbeat; no easy feat for a novel about a mother who pulls a disappearing act.
Korina Lopez - USA Today


You don't have to know Seattle to get Maria Semple's broadly satirical novel.... Underlying the nontraditional narrative are insights into the cost of thwarted creativity and the power of mother-daughter bonds, although a reader may be having too much fun to notice.
O, The Oprah Magazine


Find your patron saint of fed-up-ed-ness in our fave summer read, Where'd You Go, Bernadette.... You'll laugh your pants off, and love the takeaway-that a life gone off the rails can propel you in a bright new direction.
Redbook


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 denouement.
Publishers Weekly


From Semple (This One Is Mine, 2008), a cleverly constructed Internet-age domestic comedy about a wife/mother/genius architect who goes a little nuts from living in that cesspool of perfection and bad weather called Seattle.... Bernadette decides she wants to get out of a planned family trip to Antarctica. Days before the trip, in the middle of an intervention Elgie has plotted with his adoring administrative assistant, Bernadette disappears. To makes sense of the disappearance, Bee creates a book by collating the Internet postings, public records and private emails she has received from an anonymous source. Although there are wonderful scenes of deadpan absurdity Seattle, already the butt of so much humor lately, seems an awfully easy mark. The tone is sharply witty if slightly condescending, but ultimately Semple goes for the heartstrings. A fun beach read for urban sophisticates or those who think they are.
Kirkus Reviews




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