Thursday, October 17, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?  is one of the best books I have read recently and given I read at least 3-4 books a week - that's high recommendation from Moi! Would rate it an 8/10

The author is Maria Semple. Her back ground is in script writing for really funny shows like   Mad About You, Saturday Night Live, Arrested Development, Suddenly Susan and Ellen.

And thankfully she brings her talent to this multi faceted fabulous book. Coming across a good book is such a pleasure but it brings an inherent conundrum with it. You want to tear through the book cos you want to find out what's coming next  but at the same time you want the book to last forever!

This starts it's narration in the voice of Bernadette's daughter and hooks you from the first page.
The narration changes voices with almost every pause and there are more twists and surprises than a twister though unlike the twister the surprises aren't bad!

I don't want to give away the story at all but for me this book made me think of the role of a person as an individual versus  as a member of a family - mother, father, wife, husband, sister etc.
No man(woman!) is an island but striking the balance between your "self" and your duties/obligation is a tricky one.

Think about it- most of us love our family and want to do stuff with and for them. But so often that takes over your life. I really do think everyone should do something on a regular basis that is for them alone- their mind, their body even if they sometimes feel or are made to feel selfish about doing so.

This now reminds me - though it's not really meant to be thought of in that direction of a couple of good movies where (in both these at least) a stay at home mom gets taken for granted and then breaks out of the rut.

One is a 1989 movie called  Shirley Valentine (6.5/10) about a British Housewife who rediscovers herself in Greece.

I saw this at least 20 years ago but still remember it. This was based on a Broadway play. I find very often the quality of writing and plot and basically fleshing out of characters is richer when the movie is based on a book or a play. You can find this on YouTube is you feel inclined to watch it. BTW- it stars Pauline Collins of the Upstairs, Downstairs fame

The other movie I thought of is English Vinglish - an Indian movie based in New York.  

An absolutely  fabulous feel good movie (8/10) with Sridevi giving a wonderful performance.

It really brings to life how we sometimes define and how sometimes people define us by the one thing we can't do. In this it’s speaking English. And how one has to not let one's whole identity be defined by it.

I find it really interesting how given a lack of physical differentiators very often language is subconsciously used as a socio-economic dividing factor. For example in 18th century the Russian court spoke French!

Also especially in former colonies or occupied states the fluency in language of the occupier becomes  the favored language. For example in India the fluency, grammar and accent of a person's English very often  places them socio- economically. Personally I find it very offensive when people make fun of  pronunciation - language is not inherent but a learnt trait and should be treated as such!

I really enjoy it when an underlying serious issue is treated delicately and presented for us to enjoy like in these movies and Book! Enjoy!

And if you end up seeing these movies or reading this book- leave me a comment!

1 comment:

Myriam J said...

So glad you enjoyed this book! Will bring it to Canada with me to read on the plane. :)