This is at heart a story of how the eccentric, creative and brilliant souls among us can find living in the real world a challenge beyond even their special capabilities. Bernadette is a Seattle misfit. Cast in the role of a private school parent, she just can’t rise to the level of expectations from her fellow parents and has alienated most of them. A brilliant architect with two major projects that have given her national fame, she has forsaken the field of architecture for reasons eventually disclosed about midway through the book. As the story begins, she has become a recluse who depends on a personal assistant in India to electronically manage as many of her tasks as she can. Her husband, equally brilliant in his own field of software development and electronics engineering, is fully absorbed into the fabric of the Microsoft workplace. He doesn’t understand many of the eccentricities of his wife but cares deeply about her. Still, even that has its limits.
To disclose more would steal from the reader the joy of discovering many of the book’s most special moments, and I don’t like spoilers. But it is safe to disclose that the writing in remarkably witty, and the format is unique. The narrator is Bernadette’s daughter, Bee, whose story of her mother’s disappearance is told in first person, interspersed with emails, text messages, letters and medical or legal reports drawn from all the other characters. The story is a wild ride from beginning to end with the incredibly absurd becoming totally believable by the careful construction of the facts by the author.
For those living on the West Coast and certainly in the Seattle area it’s a great satire of the lifestyle there with what I imagine are a lot of “in” jokes that are far beyond those of us who are on the outside. But it’s a story that would appeal to and entertain anyone living in the high-intensity work world peopled with some who have more money than they know what to do with or others with far too much intelligence to know how to function in the real world. It is witty, funny, and heart-warming. I took a chance on this one and came out a winner. I hope you give it a try yourself.