Where’d you go Bernadette, Marie Semple

By Gillian Golborne


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.


A strange book. I can’t decide if I enjoyed it or not. It reads more like a movie script than a book.

Its written in a staccato type prose which I found off-putting. Bernadette reminded me of Bridget Jones as things always seem to be going wrong for her. Considering she was supposed to be a revolutionary architect who students looked up to, she seemed to find it hard to control her life on the most basic level. On occasion, it seemed totally unrealistic. I did enjoy her daughter’s character, Bee, who I felt sorry for, given her parents were so wrapped up in themselves.

The entire plot just seemed too far fetched. I maybe unfair, but I found the book lacked the depth to justify its complexity. I understand it is due to be released as a movie. It might be better suited to this format.

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