Synopsis: Who is Bernadette Fox? She is the wife of geek-genius Elgin Branch, of Microsoft. She is a famous architect who abandoned her career in San Francisco after a bad scene, and moved with her family to Seattle (which she HATES). She is mother of Bee, a gifted 8th grader who attends a private school. She is a madcap, reclusive rebel who refuses to play nice with the private school "gnats", and outsources her entire life (shopping, making appointments, handling paperwork) to a personal assistant in India. True, her actions may seen a bit eccentric, but her heart is in the right place.
And then one day, after a series of events that have escalated Bernadette's anxiety (including an impending family cruise to Antarctica), she disappears.
Through a collection of e-mails, letters, itineraries, invoices, police reports and school newsletters, we trace Bernadette's steps over the years, through her MacArthur grant and rise to fame, her crash back to earth, a mudslide, a fishing vest, anxiety medications, the FBI, an intervention, and hours of laughter.
My thoughts: I don't know what I expected with this book, but it knocked my feet out from under me. I can't remember when I laughed so hard! How on earth do you encapsulate everything that Bernadette is?
So much of this story hit close to home for me. Once a career woman, now a stay-at-home mom myself, I could completely sympathize with our protagonist. Yes! There are days (weeks!) when I don't want to leave the house. (It usually starts around April for me.) Outsource the calendar and the shopping? I'd love to! Or how about the meddling, micro-managing, clueless helicopter parents that basically run a private school? I love the term "gnats". I know a few of those.
The tone was wild was sarcastic, Bernadette was a pisser, and I loved it all. I've got your back Bernadette. You want to run away? I'll come with you. I loved Bee too. Whip smart and independent. The apple didn't fall too far from the tree.
But there was a sneaky, dark side to the tale. Just a little bit of one, to keep the story grounded. Still, the pace never got bogged down. You could hardly keep up with all the action.
But I must admit that 75% of my enjoyment of this story was due to the audio version...
A few words about the audio production: Our narrator (one I won't soon forget) was Kathleen Wilhoite. So when I look on Amazon, I see this is her first audio book. What the hell? But then on IMDb, I learn she is an actress and a singer-songwriter. Now it makes sense, except for the fact that this is one of the best-narrated books I've ever listened to, and the audio world is totally missing out if they don't snap her up NOW. She absolutely made this book for me. Not only does she have perfect comedic timing, but holy crap CAN SHE SING. I didn't expect that little treat. For those of you who have been around and listened to me rant and rave about Lenny Henry's narration of Anansi Boys, I'd put Ms. Wilhoite right up there with him. I'd like to see (hear) more from Ms. Wilhoite please.
Audio book length: 9 hours and 39 minutes (336 pages)
5 out of 5 stars