The Lady Vanishes

A smart, funny-sad fable about a family of geniuses

Matthew Leifheit for TIME

It has been observed, a lot but not enough, that novels by men and women get treated differently. When men write about marriage and family, they're rewarded with serious reviews and prestigious prizes and important-looking book jackets that have hardly any pink on them. (And sometimes even with magazine covers.) When women do it, it's chick lit. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is a novel about marriage and family, and it arrives wrapped in a vaguely erotic cover--a cartoonish echo of Lolita, or maybe Fifty Shades of Teal. But it deserves to be taken seriously.

The Bernadette of the...

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