Hi book clubbers, hope you all managed to get this novel wrapped in time for tonight? I know I had to do a bit of speed reading, and I’ve already had a few naughty members email to say they aren’t quite finished yet… but don’t let that stop you joining in tonight, or after you’ve finished. I’ll keep checking back for comments! There may be spoilers in here though, so read no further if you don’t want to know the ending.
So our most recent novel, as suggested by a book club member when we first started, was “Where’d you go Bernadette” by Maria Semple. It’s always nice to be persuaded to read something different, and I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a bit too chick lit for me, but I actually really enjoyed it. I really warmed to the characters and found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions – this would be the perfect beach read if you want something light hearted but still witty and cleverly written.
Ok so to kick start our discussion in the comments below, I have a few questions for you:
1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is told from the point of view of a daughter trying to find her missing mother. Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from Bee’s perspective? What light does it shed on the bond between Bernadette and Bee?
2. What are your thoughts on Bernadette’s character? Has she become unhinged or has she always been a little crazy? What, if anything, do you think sent her over the edge? Have you ever had a moment in your own life that utterly changed you, or made you call into question your own sanity?
3. When Bernadette relocates from Los Angeles to Seattle, she must cope with being a transplant in a new city. Have you ever moved, or even stayed put but switched jobs, and had to adjust to an entirely different culture? What was it like?
4. The idea of going to Antarctica becomes too much for an already frazzled Bernadette to bear, but the trip itself, surprisingly, turns out to be exactly what she needs to get back on track. How do other characters in the novel experience their own breakthroughs? Which character is most transformed?
5. How are Audrey Griffin and Bernadette Fox more alike than they realize?
6. Bernadette often behaves as if she is an outsider. Do you think she is? If so, do you think her feelings of being an outsider are self-imposed, or is she truly different from the other members of her community? Do you ever feel like an outsider?
7. The book has a very playful structure. Do you think it works? Why do you think the author chose it rather than a more straightforward, traditional structure? Think about other books with unusual structures and how their formats influenced your reading experience.
8. What do you think of Bernadette and Elgie’s marriage? Is it dysfunctional? Is there real love there? How has their marriage changed over time? Think about romantic relationships you’ve been in that have evolved, positively or negatively, and why.
9. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is, at its core, a story about a woman who disappears, both literally and figuratively. Were you able to relate to the book? How and why? Do you feel Bernadette’s disappearance was unique, or do all women, in a sense, disappear into motherhood and marriage?
Questions issued by the publisher and found via Lit Lovers
For me it was particularly interesting to read from the perspective of being a Mother myself (although I’m not one with children at school just yet), so I’d be keen to hear the views of those with older kids and those with none at all!
And, don’t forget to post a comment here or on Facebook with your suggestions for our August novel. I’m keeping track of everyone’s fave picks, and will try to keep the selection varied each month as much as possible.