Women Writers Reading Challenge #27: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple


I must apologize for the relative quiet around here…it’s been a crazy month, and things are only just beginning to simmer back down to their normal temperature. I promise Baking for Bookworms will be up next week.

But on to the book:

Maria Semple’s book is the quintessential summer reading material, light, vaguely related to travel, and utterly engrossing. All in a package you wouldn’t mind being caught dead with (I hate when the cover of some wonderful historical fiction or chick lit has this awful posed model in a bad costume. What’s wrong with using paintings? Or typography and simple artwork?).

The book is almost entirely an epistolary novel, about the disappearance of Bee’s mother told through various notes, emails, and other communications with some interjections from Bee, the narrator. As you read further, you discover more about Bernadette, the interesting recluse, as the tension builds and builds. But more than the story of this woman, the book is an engaging look at relationships between mothers and daughters, what we’ll do to expedite a miracle, and the influence our homes have on us (in both a figurative and literal sense).

Though the narrative zooms by, the characters linger with their eccentricities, their loyalties, their hopes, desires, and frailties. At times the book is laugh out loud funny, at others depressing realities of missed opportunities creep in, but always there is light and hope.

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