Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette, rating 2.75/5, fiction, 336 pages, pub, 2012

I accepted this for review because I enjoyed Semple’s first book and she was gracious enough to let me ask her a few questions a few years ago here on the blog.  I read nothing but positive things about it from other bloggers and it’s even up for a best book award at Goodreads.  So, it was bound to be a disappointment, right? Unfortunately, it was.

Bernadette, a reknowned architect, has been stuck in suburban Seattle hell for almost 20 years and her husband mentally checked out of her wacky ways way back as he focused on his very important job at Microsoft.  Bee, their daughter, never felt neglected or unloved so the parents were successful in raising a daughter with a bright future.  The story focuses on where Bernadette had disappeared to, but this doesn’t really happen until the last third of the book.

It was an epistolary novel, mostly.  There were chunks thrown in from Bee, especially at the end, that broke up that narrative in a less than positive way.  I liked the emails, police reports, newspaper articles, FBI reports, text messages that made up the story of Bernadette’s disappearance, but until the very last few pages I never cared about Bernadette or her husband Elgin. At the very end I appreciated Bernadette’s journey, but getting there was a journey I wouldn’t take again. Bee, was a sympathetic character but not one I connected with.

There were exotic locales, Antarctica playing a big role in most of the book, and plenty of laughable/hateful characters depicting the wealthy suburbanites I am all too familiar with so I think this could be a great movie.  The characters often felt like caricatures that could definitely work on the big screen, but for me I found them a bit too whiny on the page.

I was hoping to be entertained, but I grew bored early on and didn’t care at all until the crazy end.  What happened to Bernadette?  It’s a doozy.  I know I’m in the minority for not really liking this one and I’m okay with that.

I want to thank Anna at Little Brown for sending me a copy of the book 🙂

November 16, 2012 - Posted by | 3 Star Books |


  1. Oh well. Hope your next book exceeds your expectations.

    Comment by Care | November 16, 2012 | Reply

  2. Oh no, bored early on? I wouldn’t have expected that given the format. Sorry it didn’t work for you.

    Comment by Mary | November 16, 2012 | Reply

  3. As you know, I love love love when you DON’T love a book because then I know I won’t either and can skip it! :–)

    Comment by rhapsodyinbooks | November 16, 2012 | Reply

  4. Hmmm. I was encouraged to read this when it first came out, so I checked it out from the library, but had to return it unread. Even though I’m not a fan of chick-lit, I thought I would enjoy it because of the epistolary format. So sad to see it wasn’t a winner for you. Characters as caricatures doesn’t work for me either.

    Comment by Thoughts of Joy | November 16, 2012 | Reply

    • I finished this one not long ago and ended up liking it a little less than you. This style of book just isn’t for me. I never connected, even at the end. 😦

      Comment by Thoughts of Joy | April 28, 2013 | Reply

  5. It’s hard to rate a book as mediocre when you have a personal connection to the author – even a remote one. I’m posting a review this weekend of a book that I liked – but not a lot. She’s a local author, and I hoped to really like it so I could email her and tell her to read the blog post. But we bloggers have to maintain our integrity, even when it’s difficult and unpopular. Good for you.

    Comment by Lloyd Russell | November 16, 2012 | Reply

  6. Oh, too bad you didn’t enjoy it. I had fun this one and didn’t mind the caricature-like portrayal.

    Comment by Leslie | November 16, 2012 | Reply

  7. I’m bummed to see this was a bust for you. I was planning on trying the audio next.

    Comment by BermudaOnion | November 16, 2012 | Reply

  8. Sorry to hear you didn’t like it more. That’s always a bummer when you have high expectations and the book just doesn’t live up to them!

    Comment by boardinginmyforties | November 16, 2012 | Reply

  9. I finished this just over a week ago. Was expecting to love it, but it ended up being a very entertaining distraction instead.

    Comment by lakesidemusing | November 16, 2012 | Reply

  10. Well now you have me curious … and the fact that I don’t have any expectations might make it more of a good read for me.

    Comment by Jenners | November 16, 2012 | Reply

  11. Oh its frustrating when a book doesn’t click and it should. A fair and honest review. I am sorry it fell short for you though.

    Comment by caspette | November 17, 2012 | Reply

  12. So refreshing to read a review from someone who didn’t love this one. I’m not sure if I will ever read this one or not but I really took note of what didn’t work for you and can imagine myself having the same issues.

    Comment by Staci@LifeintheThumb | November 18, 2012 | Reply

  13. Just got the audio from the library; hope I like it more than you.

    Sorry I haven’t been able to comment much as I’ve really been busy and sadly putting minimal effort into blogging. Hope you are enjoying your day, give Gage an extra hug from his blogger fans.

    Comment by Diane@BibliophilebytheSea | November 18, 2012 | Reply

  14. I just brought this one home after reading so many positive reviews. Sorry it was not as wonderful for you.

    Comment by Nise' (Under the Boardwalk) | November 19, 2012 | Reply

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