Bernadette Fox first made herself known to me when her cover popped up on Good Reads.
Bright, bold and Glamorous, what was I to do? So I dug a little deeper and found that some of my friends were into Bernadette too.
So I got myself a copy and promptly fell head first into B’s World.
This book, for the record, is brilliant. I found it to be a breath of fresh air, which is great when you find it.
There is so much fluffy shit out there and – I hold my hands up – I love some of it, but it’s not always the most original.
This has something about it that makes you want to devour it. Ultimately, it is a story about self-love, family, love and expression, some of the themes I hold dearest.
Bernadette is mother to 15-year-old, Bee, wife to barefoot Microsoft Rock God, Elgie. To the other mums at Bee’s school she is a menace to society, a disgrace and an obsession they just can’t kick.
As B’s behaviour swings ‘out-of-control’, Elgie starts to fear for his opinionated spouse and is compelled to do something about her, for all their sakes. But Bernadette is dealing with Something Bad that happened a long time ago, and she’s dealing with it in her own way.
Where’d You Go is written from the perspective of Bernadette’s super-bright daughter Bee but is mainly a compilation of emails (about Bernadette), articles (about Bernadette) and reports (about Bernadette).
The Gnats, who pen most of the emails to each other, are hilariously pompous with major self-importance issues. Outraged that B has only ever helped out on a school outing once, they spend all their spare time reporting back and forth on any or all gossip they can glean on Mrs Fox. This only serves to accentuate their small-mindedness but I do feel a little bit of empathy as they get carried away with their meddling, and their lives come crashing down around them.
As for Bernadette, well… Our protagonist is a fabulous creature: creative, funny, ballsy and enigmatic, also mad as a box of frogs. Her dynamic with Bee is heart-warming and although the shine may have worn somewhat on her marriage to poor hapless Elgie, there’s a lot of love there.
So, if you’re wondering where Bernadette goes, whether she comes back and what made her leave in the first place, I’d suggest you pick up a copy and join the search. It’s well worth it.
Ps. Maria Semple wrote for Arrested Development and Ellen and that quality of writing is definitely apparent in WYGB. The film rights, apparently, have been sold with a rumour that Helena Bonham Carter may be Bernadette. If true, this news is frankly bloody exciting.
Go read this book please, it’s a corker!
- Title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
- Publisher: W&N (7 Jun 2012)
- ISBN-10: 0297867288
- ISBN-13: 978-0297867289
- Bought paperback (secondhand)