Come and chat to Maria Semple, author of the Women's Prize for Fiction-shortlisted WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE, Tues 24 Sept, 9-10pm

(111 Posts)

Our September Book of the Month is wonderfully eccentric, both for the way it is written (a jigsaw of emails, letters, official documents, police reports, and many other sources) and for the heroine, whose take on the world is highly unusual.

Shortlisted for the 2013 Women's Fiction Prize, WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE is a suspense story, as clever teenager Bee tries to track down her missing mother, the notorious Bernadette. Bernadette's dry humour and unorthodox methods create drama wherever she goes, as does her unconcern about being disliked.

The novel's wit and refreshing comedy (the author is regular writer for Saturday Night Live and other hit US shows) make it a perfect piece of intelligent escapism. As Jonathan Franzen put it, 'I tore through this book with heedless pleasure'. A caustic satire on modern life, parenting, social interaction and the American Dream.

Orion have 50 copies to give to Mumsnetters - to claim yours please go to the book of the month page. We'll post on the thread when all the copies have gone. If you're not lucky enough to bag one of the free books, you can always get your paperback or Kindle version here.

We are thrilled that Maria will be joining us and answering questions about WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE, her writing career and her creative inspiration on Tuesday 24 September. So please feel free to discuss the book throughout the month, pop up any advance questions and we will see you all here, Tue 24 September, 9-10pm.

Gargamella Tue 24-Sep-13 21:49:38

any inkling yet of when the movie is likely to come out?

MariaSemple Tue 24-Sep-13 21:50:30

jongleuse

So sorry I'm late to the party, but wondered if Maria saw all the plaudits and her Women's Prize for Fiction shortlisting as a riposte to that 'women writers get pigeonholed as mommyfic if they write domestic while Franzen and his ilk get ALL the prizes' stuff.
Not very clear as a question, more of a whaddya think?
BTW loved the book and recommended to many.

Thanks, Jongleuse. Personally, I feel really lucky to be a woman writer writing about women and families. I think it gives us a huge advantage, really, because readers are largely women. I have little patience for all that talk about how women writers have it so bad. I find it incredibly boring.

MariaSemple Tue 24-Sep-13 21:51:25

Gargamella

any inkling yet of when the movie is likely to come out?

It's still a long way off. So much can go wrong, but we're all hopeful. The first thing is to get a strong script, which I've been working on, and which I'm about to get back to and turn in today. Yay!!!

busybee1978 Tue 24-Sep-13 21:54:42

I really enjoyed the book and thank everyone concerned that I won a copy. I would like to ask (if I'm not too late) where you found your convincing teenage voice from? I should imagine that Bee's must have been the hardest voice to write? Can't wait for the screenplay!

We're running out of time, so I just want to say a large thank you to everyone who posted and put forward such interesting questions.

Maria, thank you very very much indeed for giving us your time and energy, and for making us laugh all over again with some of your answers. It has been fascinating to get the insight into how the characters developed, and how your own experience shaped the book.

Can't wait till the film comes out (Annette Bening is a top idea, especially since seeing her in The Kids Are Alright - will be rooting for that casting). Meanwhile, good luck with the next novel and please come back and tell us about it when it is finished.

Many thanks again and congratulations on all your success.

jongleuse Tue 24-Sep-13 22:01:09

Wonderful book discussion again; thanks to MNet for organising and Maria for answering questions so eloquently. Thrilled to find another Harriet the Spy fan and I WANT Claire Danes to play Bernadette...

MariaSemple Tue 24-Sep-13 22:01:23

busybee1978

I really enjoyed the book and thank everyone concerned that I won a copy. I would like to ask (if I'm not too late) where you found your convincing teenage voice from? I should imagine that Bee's must have been the hardest voice to write? Can't wait for the screenplay!

Hi BusyBee,
I went deep inside to a part of me that was quiet and wrote Bee from there. I was worried, at first, that I'd have to fill her with teenaged jargon and sass. If that was the case, I didn't even want to write her at all. But then I thought I'd risk it and make her simple. I'm glad it worked for you. I love her voice.

MariaSemple Tue 24-Sep-13 22:02:24

TillyBookClub

We're running out of time, so I just want to say a large thank you to everyone who posted and put forward such interesting questions.

Maria, thank you very very much indeed for giving us your time and energy, and for making us laugh all over again with some of your answers. It has been fascinating to get the insight into how the characters developed, and how your own experience shaped the book.

Can't wait till the film comes out (Annette Bening is a top idea, especially since seeing her in The Kids Are Alright - will be rooting for that casting). Meanwhile, good luck with the next novel and please come back and tell us about it when it is finished.

Many thanks again and congratulations on all your success.

Tilly, this was such a thrill. I love this website and will be surfing it when I should be writing, for many years to come! Thank you all. xo

I wish that chat could have gone on for another hour, so much I still want to ask...

However, we do have the next month's book to think about and the return of MAGGIE O'FARRELL to the bookclub sofa on Weds 23rd October, 9-10pm. Look forward to seeing you all then.

MABS Tue 08-Oct-13 17:20:35

aggghhh missed this!! Maria is my cousin smile

MunchkinMama Mon 21-Oct-13 21:50:50

I finally finished the book (demanding babies I have, leaving me little time for reading) and really enjoyed it. I like the corporate IT world perspective having come from that myself and I think that seeing the same characters from differing viewpoints is exactly how real life is.

Some of the letters and emails did seem a little overworked in order to get the story across to the reader but somehow I discounted that as I was curious to see where Bernadette was going as she got more and more eccentric. Conversely, sometimes the letters did not give enough insight making the story a little unreal. For example, Audrey's complete turnabout just didn't convince me, yet it was so central to the advancement of the story. Soo-Lin also felt like a cardboard character but given her peripheral role I wasn't too bothered, perhaps this was intentional from the author anyway.

To me the story ended when Bee found her mother in that tremendous hug where the mother daughter relationship was fully acknowledged and displayed by both. I felt that it had to end that way otherwise the story would have been meaningless. After that it was all a bit cliched and kind of unnecessary.

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