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September 6, 2012 / Leslie

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

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria SempleWhere’d You Go, Bernadette
by Maria Semple

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date: August 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover | 336 pages
Rating: 4½ of 5

Listen to the audio

“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. When Bernadette disappears, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel.”

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a fast-paced, fun, satirical look at the stereotypical Seattle culture. This is not your average humorous novel. It is quite original and in many ways defies description.

Bernadette is on the verge of a breakdown, rarely leaves her house, dislikes interacting with people, and uses an internet assistant as a virtual secretary. After a series of run-ins with her neighbors, Bee’s school and her ever growing anxiety over a trip to Antarctica, Bernadette disappears.

The story is told from the point-of-view of daughter Bee using some narrative but mostly a vast assortment of documents — anything and everything: emails, faxes, press releases, doctor bills, reports, notes, articles. While this sounds random, it’s not; it’s woven together seamlessly as we read through correspondence from one person to the next, the story falling into place. The characters are well-drawn and memorable. I’m still laughing about the virtual internet assistant, Manjula.

Although the title implies that Bernadette is missing, she doesn’t disappear until almost the end. The story is a build-up to that point and told after-the-fact by Bee, which I didn’t realize when I first started reading the book. To say much more about the plot would be a spoiler. It’s very enjoyable the way it evolves and the technique of using correspondence works well. It’s fast and fun and may even have you laughing out loud.

If you would like a chance to win a copy of your own, the publisher has generously offered three copies to give away to my readers.

Giveaway Information

  • Contest is open to those with an address in the US or Canada (No PO boxes).
  • To enter fill out the form below. For an extra entry, tweet or blog the giveaway prior to 9/15.
  • The deadline for entry is Sunday, September 16th. I will draw three random winners who will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond with a mailing address. One winner per household.

[Contest has ended]

Winners: Debbie, Amy and Lee
Source: Review copy.
© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.


Leave a Comment
  1. Mary / Sep 6 2012 5:45 am

    This sounds like a fun book – can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!


  2. Jayme@Beachreader / Sep 6 2012 6:02 am

    I need a light, fun book with school starting this week. Thanks for the giveaway.


  3. sagustocox / Sep 6 2012 6:02 am

    I’ve heard only good things about this book. sounds like another winner for the year!


  4. BermudaOnion / Sep 6 2012 6:47 am

    I read Semple’s first book and enjoyed it – it sounds like this one is even better.


  5. laurelrainsnow / Sep 6 2012 9:32 am

    It was definitely a unique book, and I enjoyed it too, Leslie. I already have a copy….so I won’t be entering the giveaway. Thanks for your review.


  6. Suko / Sep 6 2012 10:52 am

    Excellent review! I am (still) reading this book and I appreciate the lack of spoilers here. It is “terribly” funny! 🙂


    • Leslie / Sep 6 2012 4:26 pm

      I re-wrote my review several times in an attempt to leave out references to things that happen towards the end. There are a few fun twists in the story that would have been ruined if I said too much, so I took it all out. It’s best to read it without knowing what happens.


  7. My goodness, you have fabulous giveaways! Just entered this one as well; this is an audio in my wish list! Thanks for hosting this event.


    • Leslie / Sep 6 2012 4:29 pm

      I’m wondering how the audio would work out as over half the book is comprised of various documents.


  8. Shannon (Giraffe Days) / Sep 10 2012 2:03 pm

    This sounds like a fun book – lately I’ve been finding that I love e-mails in books, and letters etc., though I haven’t read many that use them almost exclusively. Thanks for the giveaway!


  9. Suko / Sep 11 2012 12:06 am

    Leslie, I will post my review tomorrow, ad post this giveaway in my blog’s sidebar. 🙂


  10. Amy / Sep 12 2012 2:19 pm

    This book sounds captivating…love the unique, creative style in which the author wrote it. And the characters sound rather fascinating.
    I really enjoyed your review. You did a wonderfull job of piquing my interest without giving away essential plot points.
    Thank you for hosting a great giveaway, too!


  11. wldmtngrl / Sep 15 2012 5:56 pm

    I would love to win this book. I read Semple’s first novel and it was one of those books that I would think about from time to time afterward. It was really good.


  12. stacybuckeye / Sep 21 2012 8:59 pm

    I saw your rating but skipped the review because I have this one sitting right here for me to read. I’m glad you liked it~



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