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Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Cover of Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Where'd You Go, Bernadette
A Novel
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*Soon to be a major motion picture starring Cate Blanchett*A whip-smart, hysterical dramedy about a family in crisis after the disappearance of its brilliant, misanthropic matriarch. Bernadette Fox is...
*Soon to be a major motion picture starring Cate Blanchett*A whip-smart, hysterical dramedy about a family in crisis after the disappearance of its brilliant, misanthropic matriarch. Bernadette Fox is...
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  • *Soon to be a major motion picture starring Cate Blanchett*


    A whip-smart, hysterical dramedy about a family in crisis after the disappearance of its brilliant, misanthropic matriarch.


    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.

About the Author-

  • Maria Semple's first novel, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, where she also wrote for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She escaped from Los Angeles and lives with her family in Seattle , where her second novel takes place.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 14, 2012
    In her second novel (after This One Is Mine), Semple pieces together a modern-day comic caper full of heart and ingenuity. Eighth-grader Bee is the daughter of Microsoft genius Elgin Branch and Bernadette Fox, a once-famous architect who has become a recluse in her Seattle home. Bee has a simple request: a family cruise to Antarctica as a reward for her good grades. Her parents acquiesce, but not without trepidation. Bernadette’s social anxiety has become so overwhelming that she’s employed a personal assistant from Delhi Virtual Assistants Intl. (who makes “$0.75 USD/hr.”) for tasks as simple as making dinner reservations. How will she survive three weeks on a boat with other live human beings? Maybe she won’t; a day before the trip, Bernadette disappears, and Bee gathers her mother’s invoices, e-mail correspondence, and emergency room bills in the hopes of finding clues as to where she went.The result is 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 dénouement. Agent: Anna Stein, Aitken Alexander.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2012
    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 left Los Angeles years earlier after a professional disaster: After she won a MacArthur grant for building a house using only materials that originated within 20 miles of the site, vengeful neighbors had the house destroyed. Now she lives in Seattle with her equally genius husband, Elgie, who is working on a big project in artificial intelligence at Microsoft, and their genius eighth-grade daughter, Bee, whose devotion to her mother is one of the novel's least credible plot points. Bernadette may be brilliant and funny, but she is also mean-spirited and self-absorbed, with a definite case of entitlement that the author too frequently seems to share. She certainly hates everything about Seattle, especially the other mothers at Bee's crunchy-granola private school. Because she hates to leave her house, a crumbling ruin she's never bothered to renovate, she has hired a personal assistant in India to run her life via the Internet. After her vendetta against one of her Seattle mommy-enemies goes terribly awry, Elgie begins to wonder if she is having a mental breakdown. Meanwhile, 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--Semple wrote for Arrested Development--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.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2012

    To her Microsoft husband and the other private-school moms in Seattle, Bernadette Fox is a holy terror; to her 15-year-old, Bee, she's her beloved mom. But when Bee demands the trip to Antarctica she was promised for delivering a slam-dunk report card, the increasingly agoraphobic Bernadette disappears. Huge in-house excitement; rights sold to nine countries.

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Little, Brown and Company
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