WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE? BY MARIA SEMPLE
Ok, ready for a great big bold statement? This is one of the best novels I have read in the last decade! Maria Semple’s second novel pretty much cleaned up the Best of 2012 awards but I’d put off reading it as it came with so many heavyweight recommendations and gushing reviews that I was bound to be disappointed.
No way! This was fresh, funny storytelling with clever twists and satirical digs that I found delightfully original. Throughout the book I had no idea what was coming next and that made for a really thrilling ride.
Where’d You Go Bernadette is an epistolary story told through emails, letters, handwritten notes and FBI reports. Set in Seattle we meet Bernadette – local menace, architect genius, recluse, wife of Microsoft golden boy and pushy mother to 15 year old daughter Bee. We join Bee on a journey literally to the end of the earth to find her mother when she disappears.
Being a fan of the 90s Seattle grunge scene, I’ve always had an interest in the city. Here, Semple satirises it brilliantly alongside it’s over-educated, over-wealthy elite. Although all the characters in this book are in a state of flux and a lot of emotional pain, the author uses witty dialogue and an imaginative plot to make their story absurd and hilarious.
This is a seriously enjoyable book that I tore through. I rather wish now that I’d taken my time to savour it more as the end came too soon. So many books are supposedly “laugh out loud” and are no such thing. However, Maria Semple has definitely produced a piece of cracking fiction to cause great big belly laughs and embarrassing snorts on the train. I’d recommend this to people who like the kind of quirky humour associated with this author’s other work writing on shows like Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.
And you’ll learn a lot about Antarctica too – even though you didn’t know you needed to!
SOUTHSEA BOOKWORM RATING: 10/10
Notes on the author – Maria Semple
Started out as a writer working on American teen show Beverly Hills 90210
- Went on to write for successful TV shows: Ellen, Mad About You and Arrested Development
- Despite her vehement dislike of Seattle in “…Bernadette,” she now loves living in the city and spends her time writing novels, teaching writing and studying poetry there. Next up she’d like to write a play.
Morrissey fans only!
Just when I thought the book could not get any better up pops my hero of heroes, Morrissey on page 242.”A singer named Morrissey was staying at the hotel, and a group or ardent young homosexuals had gathered, hoping for a glimpse. They were carrying Morrissey posters, records, boxes of chocolates. Love was in the air!”
“And then it started to snow…the Morrissey fans waved their arms around theatrically and started singing one of his songs that went something like ‘through hail and snow I’d go…” (QUOTE FROM I HAVE FORGIVEN JESUS)