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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)
TillyBookClub Mon 29-Jul-13 16:51:22

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.

hackmum Wed 31-Jul-13 08:50:04

Really really enjoyed this book. Great fun.

DuchessofMalfi Wed 31-Jul-13 18:08:44

I've been wanting to read this one for ages. Have applied smile

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 02-Aug-13 10:27:07

Quick post to say the 50 free copies have gone. An email will ping its way to your inbox if you're receiving one.

LegoUniverse Tue 06-Aug-13 16:00:03

I bought this a while ago when it was on special offer on Audible and I really loved it. Way, way better than The Hive -- sharp, a bit edgy but not hard work at all. Narrative satisfaction guaranteed.

BumgrapesofWrath Thu 08-Aug-13 20:00:12

Loved this book! Can't wait for the webcast!

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 15-Aug-13 12:27:54

Hello, has anyone had their copy yet? The publisher says they've been posted. smile

isleangel Thu 15-Aug-13 15:34:15

I received a copy at lunchtime. Thank you! A complete surprise as I didn't get an email, but it has made my day. Can't wait to start reading smile

Clawdy Thu 15-Aug-13 15:39:42

Mine arrived today,thanks. Really looking forward to reading it!

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 15-Aug-13 15:53:49

Oh thanks for posting, that's great.

Lomaamina Thu 15-Aug-13 18:29:03

I just got mine in the post too. (Loved the themed address label, which made the whole parcel feel like a special gift). Looking forward to reading this and taking part in the conversation.

Thanks to Mumsnet and Orion the publishers -


OliviaIsOffTheGinMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 15-Aug-13 19:42:05

Lurkity lurk

Lomaamina Thu 15-Aug-13 21:58:41

Oh and I didn't get an email (not a problem obviously, but in case you wanted to check your systems).

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 16-Aug-13 09:11:05


Oh and I didn't get an email (not a problem obviously, but in case you wanted to check your systems).

Hmmm, will check. Thanks for flagging.

Lomaamina Fri 16-Aug-13 13:27:29

Just got it a minute ago.


vicci0314 Fri 16-Aug-13 15:36:41

My book came yesterday im looking forward to reading it.

Cantdothisagain Sat 17-Aug-13 09:04:16

Got mine too! Thank you: it looks intriguing. Looking forward to reading it.

Nosleeptillgodknowswhen Sat 17-Aug-13 16:59:35

Just finished my copy! I really enjoyed it. I find it hard to find easy reading books (because who has the energy to read war and peace after a day's childcare?) which aren't chicklit or midlife-crisis lit.

I liked the writing style, the Seattle tech setting and the characters. I thought there was a good underlying, mumsnetty, message about not judging people. But as the book got towards the end I lost a lot of sympathy for Bernadette. I was also disappointed that the story did seem to get more cliched as it progressed.

Still, am definitely tempted to read Maria Semple's first book too.

countingdown Thu 22-Aug-13 08:07:29

I received a copy too. Have read the first part and am really enjoying it so far. Will post again when I have finished.

Lizzylou Thu 22-Aug-13 15:28:07

I read this on holiday, really enjoyed it.
Intelligent escapism is the perfect description I think, though I agree it did wilt a little towards the end, bit cliched.

I think I will try Maria's first book now.

violetwellies Thu 22-Aug-13 22:48:42

I too got book but no email.
I like it, too involved already, I would like to slap 'Elgie'

Lomaamina Sat 24-Aug-13 20:18:56

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and it left me with a very vivid picture of Seattle life (for better and for worse) and equally with a sense of the Antarctic landscape and the oddity of life as a scientist in the southernmost desert (making me revisit my DVD copy of Werner Hertzog's 'Encounters at the End of the World'

I also enjoyed the episolatory structure, although on occasion I felt that its rigid format led to more information being included in letters than would have been done in reality.

I have a question in advance of the discussion next month:

You very cleverly tell the same story from several of the characters' viewpoints. I felt that Elgin in particular could be read either as a positive, upstanding stable member of the family or as a neglectful, overworking absent father. Are you wanting your reader to actually decide for themselves how they read the characters, or in fact for the characters to remain as ambiguous figures to the end?

Thanks again to Granta and Mumsnet.


cavylover Sat 24-Aug-13 21:58:12

Unusually structured book which may not be to everyone's liking with much of the story being told through emails which gives it a very modern feel. Reckon storytelling like this may become commonplace in the future.

Thank you for sending me the book.

Lomaamina Sun 25-Aug-13 08:24:40

Ahem, I meant to say thanks to the publishers Weidenfeld & Nicholson for the book!


DuchessofMalfi Sun 25-Aug-13 21:07:18

Thank you for my copy MN smile . I arrived whilst I was away on holiday. Just started reading it yesterday. Intriguing so far. It's going to take a while to get used to the way it's written. Should have it finished by the end of the week.

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