44. Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Maria Semple)

book-articleInlineAfter seeing this title on several summer reading lists and viewing it’s striking, funky cover, I started this novel at the end of my holidays. It was difficult to get into and took me almost a week to finish. The author had been a writer for 90210, Saturday Night Live, Mad About You and Arrested Development. I am sure that her skills were stronger writing for these programs as I am not interested in reading any more novels by Semple.  If I did not have a compulsion to finish the books that I start, I would have put this one aside days ago.  This is the first novel this year that I do not recommend.

The novel tells the story of a neurotic mother, an architect who dropped out of that world after she designed and built an outstanding, award winning home. Her often absent spouse supported the family working in a high level position at Microsoft and the daughter attended a private school where the other mothers or “gnats” as Bernadette called them were VERY involved. Bernadette found a virtual assistant who was helping her manage day-to-day tasks from “India” as she struggled to cope with everyday life.

The story of her disappearance is told through a series of emails, notes and reports that are compiled by her daughter.  That style seems disjointed as the reader flips between past and present frequently.  The settings include Seattle, where the family lives in an old residence for troubled girls, and the Antarctica where the family booked a trip as a reward for their daughter’s stellar grades. The tale is a series of mishaps, sarcasm and bizarre occurrences but in the end it was a tedious read.

 

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