Thursday, October 11, 2012

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel

I don’t know if Maria Semple should be praised or shot for inflicting this raucous, chaotic novel on the public. Not since reading Jennifer Belle’s,
The Seven Year Bitch have I came across such an annoying and bizarre cast of characters in a single piece of fiction.

Bernadette suddenly disappears two days before Christmas when her fed-up husband, Elgie tries to stage a psychiatric intervention and it’s left to Bee, her bratty, smart-ass daughter to discover if Bernadette may or may not be in Antarctica hiding out. The backtracking story is mainly told through letters, emails, text messages and a variety of memos. 

Warning: the characters constantly speak in air quotes and multiple exclamation points, so if that annoys you, watch out.

I found it very hard to identify with oh-so-very-eccentric Bernadette Fox and that’s saying a lot for me. To identify with a character in a book, I usually ask myself, ‘Would I be friends with this person in real life ?’. The answer in this case is a resounding, emphatic 'Hell fuckin' no' !

Bernadette is way too neurotic, paranoid, antisocial, talky and just downright batshit crazy for my taste. I came to think of her sort of as a female version of Woody Allen.The only person in this story I can even remotely identify with is Elgie, the geeky husband.

All in all, this book is extremely well written, often funny, witty and freakin’ brilliant. I’d be interested to read Marie Semple’s other novel, This One Is Mine just to see if she can write more likable characters.

Rating: 6.5