gail schimmel

The blog of writer Gail Schimmel: A bit of writing, a bit of parenting, a bit of thinking and some book reviews

Two Great Reads


So last time I spoke to you, I had just recovered from a book slump – and the book that really got me out of it was Where’d You Go, Bernadette? By Maria Semple. My kindle had been nagging me to read this book for quite a while, but something about the cover – which seemed too light – and the blurb – which seemed too heavy – put me off. Then a friend said that it is very funny – especially if you are at the stage of life where you have to deal with school-mom politics. So I read it.

It strangely is both light AND heavy. I don’t know why this surprises me, because I think my own writing actually has this “problem”, and people are often put off by the blurb which fails to mention the humour. But Bernadette is a very funny story about a talented woman in hiding from real life, who gets into conflicts with her neighbours and the moms at her daughter’s school. I found it easy to read but also full of issues that made me think a bit. Big issues – like not judging people too quickly, and what is actually involved in a fulfilled life, and whether I will ever be lucky enough to go to the Antarctica.

So on that one – I give a huge thumbs up.

After breaking a reading slump, there is always a fear that the next book might push you back. So I tentatively started “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer. This – for me – delivered most of the things I need from a book. It’s the right length – meaty without being off-putting. It is a bit coming of age, which I like, but not stuck in adolescent issues. It has gripping, interesting characters and it has heavy and light moments. It reminded me a bit of Donna Tartt’s Secret History (an all time favourite), although not quite as extreme or dark. Secret History Lite, perhaps?

I think it is one of the books people will be talking about for a long time, and, for me at least, it has put Meg Wolitzer on the “must buy” map.


2 thoughts on “Two Great Reads

  1. When I read the book blurb, and this blog post, I catch hints of Anne Tyler. I can’t imagine enjoying a book by anyone who idolizes Franzen, but this review of yours, given how I adored “The Goldfinch” might change my mind. Did she remind you of Anne Tyler at all?

  2. Not sure if you are talking about Bernadette or The Interestings – but neither were at ALL Franzen like. Neither are quite as gentle as Anne Tyler if that makes sense. . . but both are lovely reads, and have that in common with Tyler. What is interesting is all this time later, Bernadette has stuck with me MUCH more than The Interestings – which though I know I loved, I’d have to read the blurb again to remember the plot. That said, I launched into a very hungry reading spell after this, so things got a bit blurred 🙂

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