Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Just as and FYI- I would not suggest reading via audiobook- it just gets too confusing.

This novel is told through the correspondences of various characters:

Bernadette, mother of 15 year old Bee, wife of Elgin; who once won a prestigious award for her design of the ’20 mile house’. She has some form of anxiety and depression making her day-to-day life difficult.

Elgin, wife of Bernadette and father of Bee, is a Microsoft exec whose TED talk is #4 most viewed. This was one of my least favourite characters. I found that he was very easily manipulated and gave in to whoever pressured him the most.

Bee is a gifted child. Since she received excellent marks she is given the option of any gift. She chooses a family trip to Antartica, which this novel focuses heavily upon. Bee is the narrator of the story. She is the one who compiles all of the correspondences, which is this book.

Audrey has a son who goes to the same private school as Bee. She is also Bernadette and Elgin’s neighbour who accuses Bernadette of ruining her property and running over her foot. She is a very unlikeable character for most of the book, but becomes more likeable the further into the book you read.

Sio-Lin is Elgin’s admin at Microsoft and Audrey’s friend. Least favourite character- I don’t want to give away the plot, but I’m sure many people will find her unlikeable.

You can see why this would be a confusing audiobook. I thought it would be something different to listen to while commuting; I found that I often has to look up the table of contents to see who was writing to who.

The first part of the novel focuses on the lead-up to the disappearance of Bernadette (not a spoiler-see the title). After she disappears Bee complies the many correspondences of those involved to piece together the mystery of her mother, who many believed to be dead.

I really liked this book. The different emails and letters between the various characters made this a different, but enjoyable read. It was also humorous and at times the situations were outrageous. It is set in Seattle, which was a refreshing change to many of the books I have read this year (mostly in England). I would recommend!


9 thoughts on “Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

  1. I’m always worried about doing an audiobook. I don’t really drive enough as it is, but I think my mind would wander. 🙈 I’ve heard a lot of good reviews for this one but I still need to read it. Dang long TBR.


    1. I feel like audiobooks are hit and miss. I listened to The Alice Network and really enjoyed it! I think as long as the plot is straight forward it’s usually pretty easy to follow along, as long as the audio reader is good- I personally love Saskia Maarleveld as a narrator!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My sister always listens to nonfiction. She said that works the best for her since you’re listening to real life instead of trying to concentrate on fiction haha. Awesome, I might have to look into that!! Thanks! 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Terrific review. I have a couple of Maria Semple’s books on the shelf, including this one. Oh, that I only had time to read the ones I want to read instead of all the must read and review because I promised the author.


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