Arghhh… Can I please know if I am sane? Please post below if you have had a love hate relationship with a book recently and hung over the fact that you like it one minute but then when you turn around on your pillow on the other side, you go, seriously?
I have been meaning to meander away from the genre I usually read… which is, mystery murder thriller and yadayada, you catch my flow. This book had been making some waves. I heard something of a light version of Gone Girl mixed with comedic craziness and said, Well why not? It is written by Maria Semple, who also write for Arrested Development and some other shows and she has brilliantly crafted the book as series of documents, emails, text messages, journals etc. That was actually really fun to read (I tend to like epistolary forms and I would kind of refer to this as somewhat that with mixed media).
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. It was witty, insightful, interesting and maybe perhaps a little scary because I find myself in the same place as the protagonist is when she is at the center of the novel. So this woman, Bernadette, a bright young architect who won a big grant but someone destroys her creation is twenty some years later a recluse who has outsourced her trip planning to Antarctica (a promise she needs to fulfil for her girl who has completed school with all A’s) and finds herself in a convoluted mess the more she tries distancing herself from other moms and the society in general. We get a comedic glimpse of Seattle’s suburbia, the people, the Microsoft culture, outsourcing your life to India for a few cents an hour and the difficulties of communication between someone who has been married for too long.
Most of all, it is about being stuck in the past and not knowing how to rid yourself of it. It is about just ticking those days off the calendar, day by day, month by month and year by year. I understand being in this vicious cycle and being completely unable to break it. When a few small projects like going to the grocery store occupies the entire energy and concentration of the whole day.
So far, I am loving it… but then I think of her husband and it reminds me of Torvald Helmer from A Doll’s House that I read not so long ago. I mean Elgie is unbelievable if he is blind to the conditions they are living in. He is supposedly so brilliant (having the fourth viewed TED talk of all time, a fact that is repeated again and again by his star struck secretary Soo-Lin whom he manages to get pregnant (arrgggg))… and he is supposed to be intelligent! The tie with the Indian outsourcing, the Russian mafia and the FBI… a bit too much? Initially I thought that it was humorous in a noir comedic sense, building on the crescendo of the time when Elgie “intervenes” to get help for Bernadette and tries to “contain her“.
Except for B, their daughter, I don’t think any of the characters are likeable even with the empathising factor that I share with Bernadette, and having this whole book revolving around her, she lacks some sort of depth that I cannot put my finger on. Also, she doesn’t really disappear until ….well a good way past the halfway mark, so think of the first half as a build up… that . is . long . pretty . long .
Overall, I am glad I read it. I don’t think I would ever re read it though I would probably venture out on a limb here and say I would read the author’s other works.
If you are still interested in this,
Even though I purchased this book’s audio from audible, I was youtubing (as usual) and found that the original audiobook has been kept there by someone… FYI. I am not providing the link here, cause well, I don’t know, I don’t feel right about it, but I am just letting you know it is out there.