Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd you go, Bernadette

This was fun and escapist. It feels like a few weeks since I escaped and became engrossed in a book that felt faraway with characters unlike that in my life. I consumed this book quickly forgetting about my life.

The novel is told mostly through letters, emails, faxes, and transcripts. This technique is employed well. The pacing of the book is quick when compared to other epistolary novels which often drag a bit. It is set in Seattle with privileged and highly educated characters. The book is being sold mostly by its humor, and I do think it is wry and has some very good satire. It’s not always funny and has a couple of touching moments. I did laugh out loud in one instance.

I could not really relate to any of the characters, but they were entertaining. I did like reading about the characters and cared about them even when I could not relate to any of them. I think it’s a mark of good character writing if an author is able to do that. As a result, I felt for most of them even Bernadette who has an anti-Canadian stance. I do think the character has a point that Canadians don’t really celebrate great individuals. I’ve seen this in Canadian culture myself (e.g. Lester B Pearson and more), but I digress.

The author quickly made it clear that none of the characters were perfect and all of them were flawed. The ending was rather neat (maybe too neat and happy) and everyone got a good ending except maybe for Soo-Lin.

I thought the book was well paced, amusing at times though not as funny as the marketing makes it to be, and neatly wrapped up. It was not extremely literary either, but a contemporary novel that has a clear start to finish. It has just enough depth about the characters and the plot.

Read April 21-22 2013 (but mostly it was the 22nd).

4 thoughts on “Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

  • Barbara

    An extremely funny and entertaining read. But you realize afterwards that it’s based on underlying problems which are common to many towns and cities.

    • athena (Post author)

      Hi Barbara! I concur that it was entertaining and I liked the ride it took me on. Of course, it does have heart and it almost blithely notes a lot problems common to urban areas. I see it even in my own hometown. People sure do like to complain. Thanks for the comment!


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