Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Why Bernadette Fox Is Scary

Maria Semple’s novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, is a satire of many things. Written in the form of a contemporary epistolary novel, its text links emails, blog posts, itineraries, invoices, police reports and school-home newsletters to tell the tale of one small family beset by a plague of well-meaning locusts. Even the foundations of their house – a former Catholic girls school that overlooks a neighborhood of Seattle’s single-minded Craftsman bungalows – are being undermined by blackberry vines. The father, Elgin Branch, is a Microsoft employee, a TED Talk cult figure, and a classic absent-minded professor, such a genius, so unworldly, that he never notices the status anxieties of his colleagues on the company’s private shuttles. All he cares about is the WiFi.