Thursday, 6 June 2013

Reading Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Hello. This is another book review. I imagine that most of you hate this so... Do move on if you're not interested (but you should be because this is a good book. You'll be missing out). Anyway, I bought this book yesterday (on my Kindle app on my iPhone) on a whim after realising that it was shortlisted for Women's Prize for Fiction and I still hadn't gotten around to reading it. Well, now I have all the time in the world! (Cue manic laughing.)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is a book about Bernadette, her husband and their genius daughter who live in Seattle a giant house that is falling apart despite them being incredibly wealthy. The book is partly told through the daughter, Bee's, narration of the events and also through notes, letters and psychological interventions between the characters that lead up to Bernadette's mysterious disappearance. Bernadette suffers from severe anxiety and harbors a strong dislike for everything in Seattle which is downright hilarious to read about, (in particular because I think it makes Seattle sound like the most amazing place ever) but it quickly dawns upon the reader that she might be a little bit... crazy. In fact, they're all a little bit crazy. I'm going to give you another quote to illustrate Bernadette's way of thinking (the two previous quotes are by Bee):

"What you've heard about the rain: it's all true. So you'd think it would become part of the fabric, especially among the lifers. But every time it rains, and you have to interact with someone, here's what they'll say: 'Can you believe the weather?' And you want to say, 'Actually, I can believe the weather. What I can't believe is that I'm actually having a conversation about the weather.' But I don't say that, you see, because that would be instigating a fight, something I try my best to avoid, with mixed results."

This is a hilarious book. It was difficult to pick quotes of this book as I immediately thought of all the events that had me laughing out loud whilst reading (on my own in an empty house). But the jokes are the kind in which the punchline refers back to something that happened previously and so they can't be done justice in just one short passage. It's quite similar to the humour in Arrested Development (and maybe I'm just saying this because I know Maria Semple was a writer on that show). However, the book's finest moments are during the serious parts, the relationships between these eccentric characters that you grow to love, the ones that really touch you. And so although this book is well worth a read due to the characters, the sarcasm and the wit, it is Bee coping with her mother's disappearance that made me finish the book within 24 hours of purchasing it. Read it.

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