Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle – and people in general – has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence – creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a daughter’s unflinching love for her imperfect mother.
Maria Semple spent her first few years traveling around Europe with her parents. While living in Spain, her father Lorenzo wrote the pilot for the TV series Batman. The family packed up and moved to Los Angeles. After Lorenzo became established as a screenwriter, the family moved to Aspen, Colorado. For high school, Maria was sent away to Choate Rosemary Hall and loved every minute of it.
College was at Barnard, where Maria had big plans of becoming a novelist or a teacher. Those dreams got derailed when she sold a movie script to Twentieth Century Fox just after graduation. The movie didn’t get made, but she moved to LA and made a living writing more screenplays that didn’t get made. Maria got into TV when her friend Darren Star – whom she’d met on the ski slopes in Aspen years earlier – gave her a job on Beverly Hills, 90210. Thus began a fifteen-year career in television, writing for good shows like Ellen, Mad About You and Arrested Development. And bad shows you’ll have to look elsewhere to find.
Maria had a baby, quit television and finally gave novel-writing a try. This One Is Mine was published by Little, Brown in December 2008. Maria, her boyfriend and daughter moved to Seattle where her new novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, begins. Maria loves living in Seattle where she teaches writing, studies poetry and tries, with mixed results, to stay off the internet.
“The tightly constructed [book] is written in many formats — e-mails, letters, F.B.I. documents, correspondence with a psychiatrist and even an emergency-room bill for a run-in between Bernadette and Audrey. Yet these pieces are strung together so wittily that Ms. Semple’s storytelling is always front and center, in sharp focus. You could stop and pay attention to how apt each new format is, how rarely she repeats herself and how imaginatively she unveils every bit of information. But you would have to stop laughing first.” - The New York Times
“Semple’s characters are marvelous: They have untold secrets, personalities with multiple dimensions, moments of failure and grace….Semple has written a fantastic, funny novel. Its affecting characters, not-necessarily-nice humor and surprising plot twists make this novel an enchanting ride.” - Los Angeles Times
“Semple, who formerly wrote for legendary Fox sitcom Arrested Development, has the feel for family strife of a born literary novelist, but she retains the comedic sensibility of a screen writer; which is to say that the book is actually laugh-out-loud funny, rather than “humorous.” And don’t let the hilarity of the first third of the book fool you into thinking that this is a light farce; by the last page, Semple, in addition to skewering helicopter-parents with satire so deft that it could pass for truth, touches on religion, class, and what we owe to those we love.” - Newsweek/The Daily Beast