A few days late, but another month down and another book down. This month Between the Lines read Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. If you have not joined the Between the Lines fun with Anne and Kristyn then be sure to join in the fun for our June read, The Husband’s Secret!
So, onward to our discussion questions for Where’d You Go, Bernadette.
1. How are Audrey Griffin and Bernadette Fox more alike than they realize?
I think they are both delusional about the realities in which they live, and they both find themselves through escape. Audrey is not willing to accept her son’s drug addiction, and instead hides behind the “perfect” lifestyle she projects. She escapes to Utah where she is able to wake up to the reality of her life. Bernadette does not want to accept reality and literally hides away in her house and cuts off all forms of communication to the outside world. She escapes twice, once from LA to hide from her “failure” as an architect and the second to Antarctica. Bernadette’s escape to Antarctica is where she wakes to reality, and Elgin reminds her that she has had four major accomplishments in her life, and there are more to come.
2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is, at its core, a story about a woman who disappears, both literally and figuratively. Do you feel Bernadette’s disappearance was unique, or do all women, in a sense, disappear into motherhood and marriage?
I think it is really hard to generalize that all women disappear. I think anyone can lose themselves or their identities in a relationship, and I think at some point we are all guilty of this, not just women. We can all lose ourselves whether it’s in our work, our relationships, motherhood, fatherhood, marriage, etc.
3. 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?
I think Bernadette’s role as an outsider is self-imposed. She basically shut the world out when she escaped to Seattle. By shutting the world it out, she made it difficult for those in the community around her to want to include her in activities. She also projected a superiority complex to those around her, based on her prior success as an architect, and most people do not want to be with others who think they are superior.
4. 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?
Bee and Bernadette have a special bond. The bond started with Bee’s time in the hospital, and only grew as they only had each other when Elign had to work long hours. Also, Bee had a better perspective on situations than the adults allowing her to stay confident in her relationship with her mother.