We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Subject: Where'd you go, Bernadette

From: Terri Rens
Sent: Saturday, 17 August 2013, 08:00 AM
To: Reader of this Post
Subject: Where'd you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Dear Reader,

I had seen the cover of Where'd you go, Bernadette in many magazines since last year. I saw the title many times on the wall of The Good Book Appreciation Society. I was quite curious, and rather intrigued by this book so I ordered it. I ordered it without knowing what the story is about, because whilst I had seen writing about it everywhere (as one does about so many books) I did not take the time to read the thoughts of others about this book, as I just knew that I had to have and read this book.

I'll be honest with you, I didn't even read the book jacket. I just had that gut feeling that I would love this book, and I did. I firmly believe that it is a very good thing to go into the reading of a book with no idea of what the book is about, so you can allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised.

I ordered Where'd you go, Bernadette about a month ago, it arrived roughly 2 weeks later - I do love ordering books from the Exclusive Books website. With it being a long weekend last weekend, I decided that it was time for me to read this book that called out to me for so long. I took my copy of Where'd you go, Bernadette and went off to have lunch at Dulcè. I was there for more than 3 hours - absorbed in the pages of this wonderful book. I am quite certain that my waiter must have thought at one point that I was out of my mind because I was laughing so hard at this book. What can I say, this book is funny. Funny is a bit of an understatement, but let's just go for funny for the sake of not being overly dramatic. I finally left Dulcè having read almost half of Where'd you go, Bernadette and feeling quite wonderful having laughed so heartily.

It was not all moonshine and roses though, there is a darker aspect to this book too. You don't realize that there is a darker side until you are quite a way into the book. I suppose I should give you some idea on what this book is about, I took this from Goodreads:

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. 

What I really enjoyed about Where'd you go, Bernadette was that it is an epistolary novel. I shan't say too much more as I do not want to give anything away, but it is certainly the epistolary form that makes this such a brilliantly told story. In case you were unsure, an epistolary novel is a novel that is written in the form of diary entries, letters or a compendium of documents. Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?

I loved getting that AHA moment when it all comes together - it reminded me so much of Atonement by Ian McEwan and that quote that I love from Domino - 'What we see may not be the truth' - this certainly is the case in this wonderful epistolary novel. If there is anything that I got from this lovely book, it is that everything we see everyday is out of context. We see things and we make them make sense for ourselves, connecting the dots so that in our minds we have a rational explanation - despite our "rational explanations" being rather far from the truth of the situation. We judge rather harshly until we learn the truth and then have to face the sea of emotions or even the consequences that arise due to our wrongly connected dots.

I do hope you'll pick up a copy of Where'd you go, Bernadette.

Your Writer

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good one! I wonder whether you would be happy to add it to the August Books You Loved collection over at Carole's chatter? Hope so. Cheers


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