RIP Bernadette at Reactions to Reading






Most of her friends will know by now that Bernadette of Reactions to Reading, one of the great crime fiction bloggers, died on February 17th, very suddenly.

She was an inspired and inspirational blogger, and there are excellent tributes to her over at Margot’s Confessions of a Mystery Novelist and Brad’s Ah Sweet Mystery Blog.

On hearing of her death I realized how little I knew about her personal life: I felt I knew her well as a fellow-reader over the past six years, but she dropped only occasional hints about her life. I didn’t know her last name (Bean) till now – for a long time I thought she was Bernadette Inoz, as she used to sign herself as that. I had never seen a picture of her even. *** Added later: I have only just realized (after reading the comment from Kerrie below) that her online name was Bernadette In Oz - hence my confusion... 

But still: she was a good friend, and I did know her, and I am glad that I did.

She wrote the best reviews, whether praising a book (which you would immediately add to your list, if not flatout buy on the spot) or one of her occasional rants, which made me laugh out loud on a regular basis. For a great example, read her on The Girl on the Train – I see that my comment on this post at the time was that her bad reviews are ‘the best fun on the internet’. This is Bernadette, starting as she means to go on:
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN won’t be joining my collection of great train mysteries. In my head it will be forever known as THE DRUNK I WISH HAD FALLEN UNDER A TRAIN but I guess that’s not a title that speeds off the bookstore shelves with quite the same volume as books with the now almost ubiquitous GIRL title do.
She was also a nuanced, thoughtful and perceptive writer. A great example I would pick is her post on Ferdinand von Schirach’s The Collini Case back in 2013 – she raised important questions in her review, and that provoked a marvellous array of comments arguing about the book: all of it was illuminating.

She recommended a book by Lou Berney, and when I loved it too she said ‘There ought to be a word for that particular warm feeling that comes when a book you have loved yourself is loved by someone else. I bet the Germans have a word for it :)’.

When she talked about Ariana Franklin’s Adelia books, I tried the first one and immediately had to buy them all.

I hate the thought that there will be no more recommendations from her, no more of ‘Moira you must read this one, great clothes’, no more of our shared love of Greyladies Press and the ‘well-mannered books by ladies long gone’. And I will remember with pride that I introduced her to the word ‘bonkbuster’ in this post, resulting in yet another great discussion.

I once said, blogging on one of the books she had told me to read:
Bernadette is a wonderful reviewer, I find her take on books incredibly helpful – she expresses ideas and reactions that I never see in other places: she has an honesty and perception that you don’t realize are missing from other reviews till you read hers.
She had such a distinctive and individual voice, and even right now, when I am devastated by the news, I am smiling to think of her great turns of phrase, her funny rants, her incisive views.

She will be much missed by all of us. RIP Bernadette, blogger extraordinaire.

**** Another friend, Jose Ignacio Scribano has done a lovely job on his blog, A Crime is Afoot - at the end of his own tribute he has listed links to other bloggers' posts, and also some links to Bernadette's work. 











Comments

  1. This is a lovely tribute, Moira. And Bernadette will be sorely missed. She wasn't just a skilled blogger, reviewer and reader. She was also a good person, and I feel privileged to have known her. It's a sad time for all of us.

    [Thanks for the kind link to my post.]

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    1. You put it so well, Margot, I couldn't agree with you more. Sad times.

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  2. I miss Bernadette and her posts. And her comments. I loved her willingness to branch out and try older mysteries and her bookish goals and stats. Thanks for writing this tribute.

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    1. Yes, Tracy, there was always so much to enjoy. I too loved all her graphs and pie charts showing her reading progress. Yes, smiling again now. Recently she flagged up the Midsomer Murders Bot on Twitter, which creates strange imaginary plots for the TV series - the Tweets have been making me laugh ever since I signed up for them on her recommendation. She will not be forgotten.

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  3. Many thanks Moira. I have added the link to https://fairdinkumcrime.com/2018/02/28/a-tribute-to-bernadette-in-oz/

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    1. Oh thank you Kerrie. I know you were very friendly with her and must be very sad - my condolences.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Martin, we will all miss her.

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  5. I've not been able to say it as well as you Moira, thank you very much. I'll be missing her nice charts and pies, too!

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    1. I know, they were such fun weren't they? and your own tribute was lovely - it is here for other readers https://jiescribano.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/bernadette/

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    2. I have added a link to your post at the end of mine, Jose Ignacio.

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  6. Moira: Thanks for a fine tribute. It captures what made Bernadette special. The world, especially the blogging world, is a duller place without Bernadette.

    I admired her rants. Using the words of my sons from some years ago "they were epic!"

    It is hard to be unique in this world. Bernadette succeeded.

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    1. Thanks Bill - your own words are brief and to the point and she would approve of that! We are all trying to capture the essence of Bernadette, I think, and you do a great job of that.

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  7. I agree with your tribute. I stopped at Reactions to Reading every day and couldn't wait to read Bernadette's reviews, pie charts, graphs and general comments on books and life. And, I agree, a real treat was to read her rants. She took no prisoners when she didn't like a book. I laughed out loud all of the time when reading her non-recommendations.

    When I read books she liked, I always agreed with her and got many good reads due to her blog. And when I read about a book she panned, I stayed away.

    When I read a book I felt uncomfortable about for weeks afterwards, I saw a review by Bernadette, where she nearly threw the book against the wall. How I wish I had read that BEFORE I picked up the book.

    Yes, she had a way with words. I love that title for The Girl on the Train, about which I agreed with Bernadette.

    She was a very smart woman and a friend. We emailed. I will miss stopping by her blog, but I plan on doing it anyway, to reread her posts and look up books I'm thinking about reading.

    What a loss! And she was young. But while she was on the planet, she gave a lot of enjoyment and knowledge to her loyal blog readers and, I'm sure, so many other people.

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  8. Yes, Bernadette's "review" of "The Girl on the Train" is a classic. Very good to reread it, thinking of her annoyance at wasting her time, but enjoying her delicious wit.

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  9. Reread the discussion on The Collini Case. A good one. Reminded me that I became a vegetarian for awhile after reading The Jungle. But such a rich conversation at Bernadette's blog.

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    1. Kathy, thanks for your comments. I know Bernadette was very much a friend of yours, and I am sorry for your loss. She was a wonderful woman. And as you say, such reliable book reports from her. As you say, let's hope we can carry on visiting her blog and finding more books from her archives.
      Your description of her is true and lovely.

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  10. I didn't cross paths with her too often, but enjoyed it when we did inter-act.

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    1. She was always a great contributer whenever she did turn up. I remember you both recommended Lou Berney to me... I knew he had to be good if he had both of you on his side!

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