Monday, January 21, 2013

Bernadette, oh Bernadette...

The Book: Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

And it's About?

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world

In a Word, it was... Surreal

I have a massive girl crush on this book. It was definitely up there in the top three books of last year and I devoured it in like two days.

Bee, Bernadette's wonderfully strange daughter, has aced her report and as her reward, she wants a family trip to Antarctica. The prospect of having to leave the city she has come to loathe ironically terrifies Bernadette and so begins a series of bizarre and hilarious and very bad decisions - including hiring an PA in India who she only communicates to via email and to whom she essentially outsources all her life admin (which - btw - is actually my dream come true).

Bernadette is my hero: she is an undercover genius but she's been in disguise as a housewife and stay-at-home mom for so long that she can't remember who she used to be. But she is a little cray and when she disappears things get even crazier than they were when she was still around.

I loved reading about the links between creativity and madness, whether it be in fiction or non-fiction. I'd like to think that the whole thing is one big, spurious accident where the correlation between the two is more a function of people wanting to romanticise artists and creatives, making even the sane ones seem a little wack. I'd like to think this because going mad is actually a legit fear for me and I'd hate to think I was predisposing myself to catching the crazy by working on my manuscript, or even blogging.

Oh, Bernadette, I really did wonder where you'd gone and I was happy to follow you and Bee to the ends of the earth to find out. Loved it.

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