Transplanted to the Northwest from Hollywood, where she wrote for shows including Arrested Development, Maria Semple now treats her new home with a satirical second novel, Where'd Your Go, Bernadette (Little, Brown, $25.99). It is unabashedly set among that smug class of Seattleites with too much money, excess self-regard, and an air of privilege that the author will inevitably burst. Semple's heroine is an ex-architect living on Queen Anne with her 14-year-old daughter and husband (a Microsoft baron). She's a selfish, oblivious, overmedicated near-recluse who can't bring herself to renovate their crumbling mansion. Far from L.A., Bernadette is ill-prepared for our torrential rain and mudslides, ill-inclined to make allies at her daughter's private school, and ill-disposed toward our parochial native architecture. "Everything is Craftsman," she complains. "It's like a hypnotist put everyone from Seattle in a collective trance." As Semple's diary of a mad housewife grows more madcap, ranging all the way to Antarctica, it becomes an entertainingly Ephronesque beach read comprising emails, court documents, blog entries, and the narration of Bernadette's daughter—the only sensible character in the book. BRIAN MILLER
Maria Semple has written for several television shows, including Beverly Hills, 90210;Ellen;Mad About You; and Arrested Development.