Where’d You go Bernadette – Maria Semple | Review

This has turned in to a year where my reading feels like it’s going slowly, but when I look back at the months I’m actually keeping up pace pretty well! I am definitely behind on reviews but I’m struggling to find the time to write them some weeks.

Do you ever have months where you feel like you just can’t get through books quickly? This was a book like that for me, even though I was enjoying it, I just couldn’t seem to pick it up for long stretches of time. It’s probably more of a reflection on my state of mind than the book though, don’t worry 😉


Bernadette Fox is notorious.

To Elgie Branch, a Microsoft wunderkind, she’s his hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled wife.
To fellow mothers at the school gate, she’s a menace.
To design experts, she’s a revolutionary architect.
And to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, quite simply, mum.

Then Bernadette disappears. And Bee must take a trip to the end of the earth to find her.

Blurb from Book Depository.


I wasn’t sure what to make of this book when I first picked it up. All I knew is that I hadn’t heard that much about it, but the reviews I’d seen were generally positive. While I understand why people love it, to me it was enjoyable but nothing incredible.

The first 3/4 of the story is told in dossier style with letters, emails, transcripts, and more, with some commentary from Bee (Bernadette’s daughter) thrown in as well. The pacing through this part of the book was great, as we learned about all the characters and their quirks, building towards Bernadette’s disappearance. But then, Bernadette disappears, the book changes to a more common narrative telling by Bee, and the pace sort of…dies. Which seems strange because it happens right when the story should be ramping up, right?! Like, Bernadette just DISAPPEARED and we don’t know how or to where, and all of a sudden we are thrown in to the mind of a teenage girl who’s grumpy at her Dad and starts withdrawing in to herself. She’s smart but honestly, it was kind of dull.

Then there were the characters…none of them were super likeable. Bernadette was entertaining and her quirks made her an interesting character to read, but Elgie and Bee were somewhat bland, and Audrey was just plain miserable as a human being. Also WHAT THE HECK is with Soo-Lin?! I completely understand Bernadette calling both of them ‘gnats’, ugh. With all that said, these relationships that Semple writes between the characters, whether they’re positive, negative, or that grey area in between, are really entertaining to read and it’s amusing to see how differently characters like Soo-Lin react and interact depending on who they’re conversing with. So while I normally outright dislike novels where I can’t connect with any characters, Semple has still written with wry humour that keeps this novel entertaining throughout.

I did also genuinely enjoy discovering the mystery of Bernadette’s disappearance and the search for her that followed. Though at times the pacing got slow, overall it was interesting seeing how relationships were explored in this book and the light mystery that came with a character seemingly disappearing off the face of the earth.


Verdict: A fun read, and with a movie coming out this year it may be worth reading (it stars Cate Blanchett too *heart eye emoji*). You won’t miss out on anything groundbreaking if you decide to skip this one though.

Page Length: 321

Publisher: Phoenix

What did you think of Where’d You Go, Bernadette? I know many people love it, so feel free to respectfully disagree with me in the comments below 😉

M xx

Buy ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ here

2 thoughts on “Where’d You go Bernadette – Maria Semple | Review

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