Maria Semple’s mostly epistolary novel of the disappearance of the overqualified, neurotic Bernadette as told by her 15-year-old daughter Bee, is a brilliantly written, hilarious and warm-hearted tale that entertains with a sharp modern wit and an old-fashioned tug of the heart. It has the feel of a sitcom or an entertaining unpretentious low-budget film - in a good way.
Unsurprising as the author is a TV writer of some repute (Frasier, no less). That bodes really well for a story essentially about the exaggerated paranoia expressed by a particular crop of suburb dwelling Americans. A mood that is ripe for a smart writer to build a compelling yet lighthearted story that can be enjoyed without stress. And seems like on cue, a film adaptation just started in July this year starring Cate Blanchett as Bernadette to be directed by Richard Linklater (so it could be a complete disaster.)
This was a really good break for me. Much better than expected. I have been burned this year by a series of tedious books (Swing Time by Zadie Smith, Golden House by Salman Rushdie and even Homo Deus by Yuval Harari) and this was quite the bite-sized cupcake in comparison.
The line that would stay with me is this crushing zinger that explains so much about so many - as most of us are...